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THE conventional Spinoza is traced to Descartes, 
Bruno, Leone Ebreo, Maimonides, and finally 
to the Stoics and Aristotle. He is thus de- 
scribed as a Western philosopher. This Spinoza is a 
puzzling episode, a lonely star in the philosophical firma- 
ment. The Western Spinoza is at best an interesting 
literary figure. The fact, however, that Spinoza exer- 
cised a profound influence, not only upon philosophical 
thought, but also upon religious, political, and juridic 
tendencies, and that he also influenced modern poetry 
as did no other philosopher before him, is suggestive of 
more than a lonely literary figure. 

In this volume Spinoza's world-picture is traced to the 
East, and he is revealed not so much as a Western 
philosopher but as an Eastern religionist. From the 
very outset he is more concerned with salvation than 
with recognition. His very approach to the description 
of his world-picture is not philosophical, but religious. 
In his influence, as well as in his doctrine, he reveals 
himself as a great religious character. 

In this book will be demonstrated that the spiritual 
ancestor of Spinoza was not a Western philosopher, 
Descartes, but an Eastern religionist, Buddha. It will 
also be shown that Spinoza, far from being a lonely lit- 
erary character, represents a steady force in man's 
spiritual history. To understand the effectiveness of 
this force, it is not only necessary to present Spinoza's 
doctrine, but also to describe his influence and his spirit- 
ual background. Accordingly, this book is divided into 



three sections. The first deals with the man and his 
position, the second with the man and his doctrine, and 
the third with the man and* his background. In the 
last section the spiritual genealogy of Spinoza is fully 
described and Spinozism manifests itself as the last tre- 
mor of Buddhism in the Western world. 

To demonstrate this thesis more fully the opposite 
side of the picture will be shown in a second volume 
entitled Kant and Plato, superimposed upon the back- 
ground of the prophets of Israel. In the present volume 
the history of man's visions of a dead God is described. 
In the following volume the history of the struggle for a 
living God will be developed. 

If this thesis is correct, then much of the Spinoza lit- 
erature must be re-written, for he cannot at the same 
time be both a Western philosopher and an Eastern 

It goes without saying that to demonstrate my thesis, 
which in the final analysis is only an attempt to demon- 
strate a new philosophy of history, it was necessary to 
re-examine Spinoza's doctrine thoroughly and to lay 
bare all its inconsistencies, contradictions, false sup- 
positions, and untenable hypotheses. In this, too, a 
break with the tradition that Spinozism is terra sacra 
was necessary. Truth is not compatible with dogma. 
Besides, the greatness of Spinoza will not be lessened, 
even though he is assigned a different position. Spino- 
za's creative religious genius is as immortal as is Plato's 
creative philosophical genius. The critique of Spinozism 
offered in this book is not a devastating devaluation, 
but a constructive transvaluation. 

I earnestly believe that this volume will contribute to 
an understanding, not only of the doctrine of Spinoza, 

but also to a new clarification of the spiritual process in 
man's history. 

I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. William Krit- 
chevsky and A. K. Epstein for enabling me to produce 
this volume. I am also grateful to Judge Emanuel Eller 
for the many courtesies and services he rendered to me 
while engaged in the writing of this book. 

Finally, I want to thank my friend Emil Lang for his 
many literary services as well as for his invaluable as- 
sistance and suggestions, which have given definite form 
to many chapters of this book. 


February, 1933 














INDEX . 385 


IN THIS book an attempt is made to reconstruct 
a part of white man's spiritual history, and to 
establish some of the laws by which it is governed. 
It will be shown that the spiritual history of man, while 
originally anchored in the physical world, continues as 
a separate realm, guided by basic types of tendencies 
from which it can never free itself. These types of con- 
sciousness continue to express themselves even when 
far removed from the scene in which they were created. 
Variety, manifoldness and multitudinousness in the do- 
main of the spirit are manifestations of elemental forces 
no less than are phenomena of the physical world. 

All philosophy of history is, in the final analysis, an 
attempt to establish and formulate the laws governing 
the historical process. The term "law," however, in the 
sense of a law of nature is as little applicable to history 
as the geometric axiom is to philosophy. History is a 
realm of ethical ends and purposes and not of laws, and 
its phenomena are not isolated or products of blind 
chance, but are all organically interlinked. 

While there are no laws of history in the sense that 
there are laws of nature, there surely is a rhythm or a 
logic in history which partly guides its course. To see 
this logic operate in the historical process, is to see its 
uninterrupted continuity. There is no silent moment in 
history, just as there is no still moment in nature. 
Forms of civilization and groups representing a cer- 
tain type of consciousness may change, but the basic 


driving forces in the realm of the spirit continue to be 
effective in a definite order. Though the Buddha Gauta- 
ma has been dead for more than twenty-five hundred 
years and Buddhism has long ceased to be a religious 
force in its native land, the type of consciousness that is 
summed up in the term "Buddhism" is as alive and as ef- 
fective today as ever. There are still millions of people 
both in the East and in the West who, although formally 
not adherents of Buddhism, still have a Buddhistic out- 
look upon life. While this type of consciousness may ex- 
press itself today in a different form than it did in the past, 
it yet remains a steady force in the spiritual life of man. 
Buddhism, with its universalism, asceticism, pessimism, 
salvationism, and serenity of the mind born of the deep- 
est gloom, still fills the hearts of religionists and the 
minds of philosophers and shapes their spiritual des- 
tinies. Even if Buddhism, as an organized religion, 
with all its votaries, monks and temples should disap- 
pear, the Buddhistic consciousness would still remain a 
steady force in man's spiritual history. It will live as 
long as man will be overwhelmed by the phenomena of 
pain and suffering which he will accept as the reality of 

In the west, man's outlook upon life differed from that 
in the east, from earliest times. Owing to environmental 
factors, he concerned himself first with single cosmic 
elements through which he came into contact with the 
whole of the cosmos. There developed in him a feeling 
for the individual with all its attending phenomena 
the will to live, a sense of beauty, unbounded optimism, 
a pugnacious spirit, and a feeling of his own importance 
in this life. 

The permanence of basic types of consciousnesses, 


such as the universalistic, pessimistic, and acosmistic 
tendencies of the East and the individualistic, optimis- 
tic, and anthropocentric currents of the West, and their 
continued struggle for supremacy is one of the vantage 
points from which we must examine the historical proc- 

This examination necessitates, first, the differentia- 
tion between dead forms and living processes; second, 
the position of the individual in history; and, third, the 
supreme force of the historical tendency. 

From time immemorial man struggled and labored to 
understand both dead forms and living processes. Num- 
ber, measure, and weight helped him to understand the 
one; comparison, analogy, and analysis the other. To 
the materialist the historical process is very simple, for 
he approaches it in the same manner that the scientist 
approaches the natural process. To him who worships 
at the shrine of mathematics, statistics explain every- 
thing. Statistics, however, will no more explain the 
whole of human life than will geometry, which is ap- 
plicable only to dead forms, for man, being a citizen of 
two worlds, cannot be mathematized. Only by analogy, 
comparison, and analysis can we understand living 
forms. To press the dreaming, meditating, and pensive 
human soul into algebraic or geometric formulas is as 
wise as attempting to translate quality into quantity. 

Heretofore, historians and statesmen have attempted 
to fix the laws of history by establishing the eternal cycle 
of the reproduction of the historical process in all its 
details. To do so they have made many comparisons of 
personalities. Napoleon believed himself to be another 
edition of Charlemagne, while Leon Trotski imagined 
himself to be a second Robespierre. Innumerable histo- 


rians have compared Christ to Buddha and Spinoza to 
Socrates* Weimar has been compared to ancient Athens 
and Heidelberg to Milet. Yet these comparisons, no mat- 
ter how exact or intriguing they may be, will not lead to 
a discovery of the historical rhythm. Not analogies of 
personalities, situations, and scenes but analogies of tend- 
encies will betray the secrets of history. When we com- 
pare world-views instead of personalities and great spir- 
itual tendencies instead of situations, the historicity of 
Moses, Buddha, or Jesus becomes of no importance. 
Even if it were conclusively proved that Moses or 
Buddha are mythical figures it would still not affect the 
logic of history, for not Buddha but Buddhism and not 
Moses but Mosaism is the center of gravity. Just as the 
individual sees not only with but also through the eye, 
so does history work not only with but also through the 

All the great episodes, occurrences, and events of the 
past, all the great men and their achievements, can be 
understood only from the vantage point of spiritual 
tendencies. Such an interpretation of history is more 
satisfactory than the materialistic prescription of Karl 
Marx, the individualistic conception of Nietzsche, the 
pan-logical of Hegel, the sociological of Max Weber, the 
physical of Buckle, or the environmental of Taine. 
Whether or not nature is a manifestation of the mind 
as Hegel thought is a subject of debate for metaphysi- 
cists, but there can be no doubt that man's history is a 
manifestation of the mind. Even the most naturalistic 
historiography is a product of the mind, from historic 
catastrophes of cosmic dimensions like major wars to 
such local events as bridging a nver, which require 
both volitional and intellectual intervention. Unless 


one denies the spiritual character of history or assumes 
that history is only a series of incoherent episodes 
and occurrences, it becomes necessary to seek in 
man's mind the rhythm which governs it. Man's his- 
tory is mind-made, spirit-made, and is not a brew of na- 
ture. The rhythm of history is so visible and its tend- 
encies so definite that they can almost be drawn as 
straight lines. World-history reveals two basic tenden- 
cies from which originate, on the one hand, the line ex- 
tending from the Upamshads to Buddha, St. Paul, St. 
Augustine, and Spinoza, and, on the other hand, the 
line extending from Moses, the prophets of Israel, 
Socrates, Plato, the Reformation, Leibnitz, and Kant. 
Spinoza, being the last powerful expression of umver- 
salism in the West, is not merely a great figure in the 
history of philosophy, but is a world-historic figure like 
Buddha or St. Paul. His doctrine represents a "Platonic 
idea," a steady stream in history. His biography is a 
chapter in the history of culture. His spiritual ancestry 
as well as his outlook upon life is not Western but 
Eastern, and his theory can be understood only in terms 
of a great world-historic tendency. Therefore, his influ- 
ence upon modern thought must be traced and the ori- 
gin of his doctrine sought. 


World-history to the European is primarily his his- 
tory. Most of the philosophic-historical speculations in 
the West have only European history as their object. 
The assumption is made that the world-historic process 
is geographically limited. Oswald Spengler is the only 
outstanding historian of recent times who has dared to 
question this historiographic wisdom. However, the 


world-historic process is not limited to the countries 
inhabited by Western man but by far transcends his 

Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Hermann Cohen, the 
greatest intellectual spellbinders of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, have revitalized in the Occident many ancient 
oriental ideas. Schopenhauer revived ancient Brahman- 
ism and Buddhism; Nietzsche, ancient Parseeism; 
and Hermann Cohen, ancient Hebraism. White man, 
through his reliance upon the Old and New Testaments, 
is still influenced by the heritage of ancient Palestine. 
Even ancient Egypt, which was outside the stream of 
the historic process, has, through its mythology and art, 
profoundly affected Western culture. Thus world-his- 
tory is not identical with occidental history and our cul- 
tural fabric is a synthesis of the creations of both the 
Orient and the Occident. 

If these are the true perspectives of a reorientated his- 
toriography, then the man of Plato, the prophets of 
Israel, Buddha, St. Paul, Confucius, and Laotze is the 
same spiritual being with the same tendencies and in- 
clinations, regardless of space and time. Spengler's con- 
tention that ancient man possessed a specific type of 
mentality, which with his aversion for distances de- 
prived him of world-historic perspectives, is empty 
speculation for which there is no basis in fact. Even in 
Hellas the philosophers and scientists sought the infi- 
nite. Ancient Greek historiography, while not highly 
developed, nevertheless testifies to a historical conscious- 
ness. In ancient Palestine, however, the understand- 
ing of the past assumed high forms. Thus, the fifth 
chapter of Genesis begins with the sentence "This is the 
book of the generations of man," while the tenth chapter 


already presents a broad picture of human history. 
Hence, historical consciousness is not the exclusive heri- 
tage of the modern Occident. Man's sameness in all 
climes makes the traditional division of history into 
ancient, medieval, and modern arbitrary and artificial, 
A civilization is a living organism subject to the proc- 
esses of decay and death. When it perishes, a new or- 
ganism grows in its place. The period of transition from 
the old to the new can validly be called the "middle pe- 
riod," and the so-called Middle Ages represents such an 
epoch. However, to say that the period from the down- 
fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Ren- 
aissance in the thirteenth century represents an organic 
unity which can never return is sheer superstition. 
When our civilization will be destroyed and history will 
begin to spin and weave a new order, a new Middle Ages 
will arise which will repeat the experiences of the men of 
the thousand years between the downfall of the Roman 
Empire and the rise of modern civilization. 

The traditional divisions of history and the limiting 
of the world-historic process to the Occident were pri- 
marily inspired by the political motives with which his- 
toriography has been overwhelmed. To the average 
man history still means primarily the history and des- 
tinies of states. This identification of political with 
general history is as artificial as the divisions of history. 
Political catastrophes such as great wars, revolutions, 
the fall of empires, and the establishment of new states 
are actually only passing historical episodes and are not 
the content of the historical process. Thus Napoleon 
to us is only a sensational and a tragic episode in the 
history of Western Europe, who left no heritage that 
might be considered a steady force in history. This is 


equally true of almost all great conquerors who made 
and unmade empires, who changed forms of govern- 
ment, and who brought about a revision of the political 
map. However, Isaiah, Buddha, Plato, and Jesus left a 
heritage to man which still stirs his mind and moves his 

Man everywhere has the same spiritual yearnings be- 
cause he must contend with the same forces of destiny 
and is everywhere subject to the same laws of nature. 
Consequently, the mechanism of his mind operates in 
the same manner and the differences in its manifesta- 
tions are determined by soil and clime. The same uni- 
versal consciousness also creates the same universal 

The local coloring of man's mind does not impair its 
universality. Because a Hindu would not understand 
Dostoievsky, a Chinaman Nietzsche, or a Russian Pas- 
cal does not testify to the ethnic confinement of the 
human mind. It merely indicates that these men were 
concerned primarily with local and temporary problems 
which they could not express in terms of universal truth. 

Modern man considers the phenomena of nature not 
as isolated manifestations but as a unity and a totality. 
The same approach must be applied to a consideration 
of historical phenomena. If there is a living nature, 
there surely must be a living history embracing all 
phenomena, movements, tendencies, and manifestations 
in the realm of man. This living history, however, is 
not a ghost completely detached from and independent 
of living nature and yet at the same time is not identical 
with it. It is a suzerain guided by its own rhythm and 
logic. To understand this relationship is the task of 
modern historiography. 


If we wish to penetrate into the mysteries of nature, 
we first examine its individual phenomena and their 
correlation. So, too, if we desire to understand the his- 
torical process we must begin with an inquiry into its 
major manifestations. Buddha, Moses, Plato, St. Paul, 
and Spinoza are such revelations. It may be urged that 
these manifestations are only accidents of history, yet 
could Buddhism have arisen in ancient Rome, or could 
ancient Hebraic monotheism have been born in Greece? 
This objection, reasonable though it may appear to be, 
is not valid because time and space necessitated the ap- 
pearance of these forces. Historical manifestations are 
as much a product of contact with reality as are the 
manifestations of the mind. The major tendencies in 
history often arise and move independently of the in- 
dividual. The creative mind, being the expression of a 
given movement, is often more its agent than its creator. 
If Buddha had lived in Greece, some other figure would 
have created Buddhism in India; or if Isaiah, Jeremiah, 
or Micah had not lived in Palestine, others would have 
conveyed their message. 

Spinozism was as necessary a phenomenon in seven- 
teenth-century Europe as was Christianity in its time. 
Spinoza is the culmination point of one of the most 
conspicuous tendencies in history. He is important not 
so much as a literary but as a world-historic figure. 
He is one of the major historical phenomena, compa- 
rable only with characters like Buddha and St. Paul, a 
steady and stirring force in history. 


Buddhism negates life, Judaism affirms it. The nega- 
tion of life is a symptom of decadence, for healthy races 


cling tenaciously to it. Those who deny life also deny 
its value. But who can say whether life is valuable or 
valueless? Nietzsche already asked: "Who can sit in 
judgment over it? Surely not the living; they are a 
party to it. And as to the dead " If the dead can- 
not and the living should not sit in judgment, who, then, 
may pass judgment upon the value of life? Yet this de- 
valuation of life by the Eastern Aryans is the very basis 
of their negative attitude to it. However, not a meta- 
physical but a physical state predetermined the ancient 
Hindu's attitude toward life. The tropical sun and the 
jungle destroyed his appetite for it, for they annihilated 
in him the courage to fight and the will to live. He who 
does not struggle for life sees it as an uninterrupted suf- 
fering, and a perpetual martyrdom. He tires quickly of 
life, for he is lacking in virility and becomes a victim of 
physical and moral decadence. Out of this deterioration 
arose the lifeless and anonymous universalism of the 

The man who emerged from the jungle denied life, 
while he who came out of the desert affirmed it. The 
sterility of the desert constantly drove him in quest of 
food, and in this search the weak and the inefficient 
perished while only the strong survived. Thus a natural 
process of selection took place which created a virile 
race. The ancient Jews became individualistic to the 
same extent that the ancient Eastern Aryans grew uni- 
versalistic. Ancient Hindu universalism expressed it- 
self in anonymity; ancient Hebraic individualism in 
biography. The Upanishads are filled with deep and 
subtle thought, but the Old Testament is crowded with 
powerful figures. Who are the personalities of the 
Upanishads; when and how did they live? What was 


their destiny and what part did they play in life? We 
know only the names of some of the supposed authors 
of the work, but of their lives we are ignorant. How- 
ever, we are familiar with the biography of every impor- 
tant figure in the Old Testament. We know when and 
how he lived and what he accomplished. Even the New 
Testament opens with a biography, and to that extent 
it is not only a continuation but an accentuation of Old 
Testament religiosity. In the Upanishads man is not 
visible and we hear only his cosmic wails and lamenta- 
tions. In the Old Testament we see man not in the ab- 
stract, but with pangs of hunger engraved upon his face. 
Both the cosmic and the national myths of man in the 
Old Testament begin with hunger. The first we see in 
"By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread," 
and the second, "And there was a famine in the land." 
In the Old Testament the will to eat is coequal with the 
will to live. But in the Upanishads man is neither hun- 
gry nor desirous of living. He is a meditating and pen- 
sive individual, a vague figure without expression or 
passion. He is only an insignificant part of this misera- 
ble world, one of its myriads of atoms which flows from 
one existence to another, without aim or goal. In the 
end he entirely disappears, leaving only the echo of a 
sigh in his wake. To the extent that the Bible is an- 
thropocentric, the Upanishads are cosmocentric. The 
personal, living God of the Bible is only a correlation 
to its living, passionate, and powerful man. The uni- 
versal and dead God of the Upanishads is equal in real- 
ity to its dead universalism. Out of the jungle crawled 
a dead God, and out of the desert roared a living God. 
The religious history of Western man is, in the final 
analysis, the history of a struggle between the living 


Jehovah and the dead Brahma. For the last two thou- 
sand years all Aryan and Semitic religiosity expressed 
itself either in a synthesis or in a combination of these 
two basic types of piety. Thus, Christianity is the syn- 
thesis of Eastern universalism and Hebraic and Western 
individualism. In Christianity God dies, but since its 
cradle, Palestine, was not conducive of a dead God, he 
rose again. This struggle between a living and a dead 
God continued in the various Christological doctrines 
of the first five centuries after Christ, in medieval mysti- 
cism, and finally in Spinoza. Spinoza's God has neither 
will nor intellect. He is impersonal and hence dead. 
However, since Spinoza was steeped in Hebraic tradi- 
tion he often forgets that his God is dead and ascribes to 
Him the characteristics of a living God. 


Buddhism is coequal with pessimism. To the pessi- 
mist this is the most miserable world possible; it is one 
uninterrupted suffering, a valley of tears. He always 
looks backward, and to him the future holds nothing in 
store for man. Buddha, too, speaks constantly of the 
preceding existences of man. The future to him is only 
Nirvana, the state of not being. The optimist, on the 
other hand, hates the past, despises the present, but has 
faith in the future. Just as Buddhism is identical with 
pessimism, so ancient Judaism is synonymous with op- 
timism. Buddhism ends with Nirvana, ancient Judaism 
with Messiah. Messiah is not the incarnation of re- 
demption or of salvation, but the inauguration of a new 
period in the world's history. He is the very apotheosis 
of Old Testament optimism. He is the vision of the fu- 
ture. He will not redeem but help; he will not save but 


relieve. He will concern himself with the oppressed and 
downtrodden, not with the sin-laden. 

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of 
wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the 
spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And shall make 
him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall 
not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hear- 
ing of his ears. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and 
decide with equity for the meek of the land; and he shall smite the 
earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips 
shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his 
loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall 
dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall he down with the kid; 
and the calf and the young lion and the fading together; and a 
little child shall lead them. 1 

Ancient India was permeated with entirely different 
motives. Its central problem was not man but sin, 
which is recognized as the greatest phenomenon in life. 
Man is reduced to a shadow, to an illusion. Not man but 
his metaphysical self constitutes reality. Since reality is 
eliminated and there is "neither slain nor slayer, neither 
oppressed nor oppressor" to use a Buddhistic figure of 
speech of what avail is it for the oppressed to resist the 
oppressor in this world of illusion ? This deep-seated be- 
lief made it possible for the Brahmin caste to debase a 
goodly portion of Hindu humanity to the depths of the 
Chandalah order, the lowest form of organized human 
life in the world. The Chandalah was deprived of the 
most elementary human rights. He was even forbidden 
to drink fresh water but was compelled to drink from the 
sewer. Yet he made no effort to rebel against this 

Buddha, too, was not concerned with the lot of the 
lower castes. He who was disinterested in man and his 

1 Jsa. 11:2. 


welfare was equally indifferent to economic, political, or 
social justice. Just as there is no Buddhistic theory of 
the state, so there is no Buddhistic theory of sociology 
and economics. The New Testament, too, with the 
possible exception of psychology, is lacking in a science 
of man. It, too, expressed its indifference to his political 
destinies: "Render unto Caesar what is to Caesar and 
unto God what is to God/' St. Paul even said that man 
should remain in the station in which God found him 
and should remain content with it. Baruch Spinoza, the 
spiritual heir of Buddha and St. Paul, incorporated 
these views in his philosophical system. He, too, was 
willing to make peace with any form of government or 
society, no matter how iniquitous, because not man but 
nature was his main guide. However, the Old Testa- 
ment, together with the Reformation and Kant, formu- 
lated a science of man. All of them contain jurispru- 
dence, ethics, economics, and politics because man is 
their main concern. 

Buddha and Jesus suggested to man a moral conduct, 
whereas the prophets of Israel, Plato, and Kant spoke 
to man in terms of the categorical imperative. Redemp- 
tive religiosity suggests that man be good; legalistic re- 
ligiosity commands him to do good. The one recom- 
mends morality; the other teaches ethics. The one 
overflows with sympathy and compassion for all crea- 
tures; the other concerns itself with stern justice for 
man. Redemptive religiosity regards man as only a 
suffering creature, a victim of fate. It addresses itself 
to man in an abnormal state. It beholds only the crip- 
pled, the sick, the poor, the beggar, the aged, the blind, 


and the leper. To this suffering, bleeding, and agonizing 
humanity it conveys a message of salvation. But legal- 
istic religiosity imposes itself upon men in all stations of 
life and it addresses itself not only to a part of humanity 
but to all of humanity. 

Redemptive religiosity conquered the world because 
of its appeal to the lowly. The lionizing of the poor rep- 
resents the piety of the Aryan, but not the religiosity of 
the Semite. Legalistic religiosity is indissolubly inter- 
linked with ethics, which becomes the grammar of con- 
science for all men in all stations in life. Its central 
theme is not living creatures or suffering humanity but 
active man. It sympathizes not only with lowly man but 
with struggling humanity. In this attitude legalistic 
religiosity is in accord with Platonic and Kantian ethics. 

Like Buddha and St. Paul, Spinoza speaks the lan- 
guage of moralism, not of ethicism. His main theme is 
salvation, not welfare; spiritual happiness, not political 
or economic reform. He who said that we are only 
slaves of nature and of God could not possibly have 
been the creator of ethics, which implies activism. His 
heart was full of compassion and pity for the down- 
trodden and the oppressed. A teacher of immanent re- 
ligiosity, he heard only the voice of nature in all crea- 
tures, of which man was only one. 

Morality is the logic of a dead God; ethics, of a living 
God. A God who is identical with nature has no power, 
for he needs none. He cannot love or be loved, reward 
or punish. The mystic may love God with an intense 
love and imagine that he is loved by Him until he 
reaches a point of ecstasy in which he feels himself at 
one with Him. But then this love of God becomes only 
love for himself. Thus that which Spinoza calls the 


highest is in fact the lowest form of love, for it degener- 
ates into a ghastly, perverted self-love. Communion 
with God presumes a personal and a living God. All other 
communion is only contact with nature and its voice. 
This call is the call of compassion not of justice, of pity 
not of reason, and of sympathy not of retribution. 

Together with Schopenhauer and Hartmann, Hous- 
ton Stewart Chamberlain correctly observed that moral- 
ity is a fact of nature and is not man's invention. When 
man hears his dog cry, his sympathy is instinctively 
aroused, for he stands face to face with the phenomenon 
of morality. Morality is the reaction to physical suffer- 
ing by any creature, but ethics which is mind-made and 
not born in the emotions is not to be found in nature 
because only man is its theme. It is the primogeniture 
of logics. Its anchor ground is recognition, not sentimen- 
tality. It is stimulated by the attributes of a living God, 
not by the properties of a dead one. 

A dead God spells pantheism and its inevitable con- 
sequence, fatalism. This doctrine surrenders man to fate 
before which he cowers in mortal terror. He visualizes it 
as a force which rules supreme and unopposed. There- 
fore, Spinoza proclaimed aloud, "There is no redemp- 
tion for man, he cannot escape his fate." 


Medieval Europe and India were products of deaden- 
ing universalism overwhelmed by gloom and pessimism. 
One of the outstanding features of the Middle Ages is 
that it was the time of the forgotten personality which 
flattened life to one church, one faith, one language, and 
eventually one world-monarchy. Medieval man was 
carried away by the frightful thought of sin from which 


he sought to purge himself by self-denial. His yearning 
for redemption assumed pathological forms, expressing 
itself in mysticism and witchcraft in the north and in the 
inquisition in the south. Not the organization of life 
but its suppression became the ideal. 

This ascetic state of mind inculcated a passive atti- 
tude in man and caused him to lay aside his cares and 
worries. Only the rediscovery of man by the Reforma- 
tion and the Renaissance made him grasp the signifi- 
cance of the term "care." He began again to care for 
this life, for earthly happiness, for the future of his 
family and for his nation. The expression ''amor soli 
natalis" the "love for one's native soil/' the slogan of 
modern patriotism, reverberated throughout Europe. 
Man fixed his eye upon the future, which he sought to 

In planning for the future he discovered the pleasures 
and joys of life, and waxed bold. Man's passing from 
universalism to individualism can be said to have been 
inaugurated by the papal bull Unam Sanctam, written 
in 1302 by Boniface VIII. The following two centuries 
witnessed a life-and-death struggle between these basic 
forces, resulting in the defeat of pessimistic ascetic uni- 

Life received a new impetus to which the entire litera- 
ture of the age testified. God as a holy spirit was forced 
to retreat before God as a personality. Martin Luther, 
who replaced papal authority with biblical spirituality, 
symbolized this new tendency. But even more than he 
was concerned with the Kingdom of God was he inter- 
ested in the state and in man. He, too, was a planner 
of man's future, and the very embodiment of German 


In Southern Europe the rediscovery of man was 
brought about not by the rediscovery of the Bible but 
by the rebirth of interest in individualistic Hellas and 
Rome. Europe thereby acquired a new cast of features. 
Not the monk, the symbol of asceticism, self-denial, and 
of the end of life, but the statesman and soldier, the 
embodiment of the lover of life, became the predomi- 
nant figures. 

Just as medieval Europe was universalistic, pessimis- 
tic, and static, so is modern Europe individualistic, op- 
timistic, and dynamic. Therein the historical process 
manifested itself by replacing one main stream with the 
other. This vacillation characterizes the development 
of all great cultures and is conditioned upon the law of 
the exhaustion of spiritual energy. Thus universalistic 
Christianity rose upon the ruins of individualistic, classi- 
cal, and Hebraic antiquity, which was spent by the 
struggle of a millennium. From the fall of the Roman 
Empire another one thousand years passed before man 
gathered sufficient strength to regain his own person- 

The development of individualism in Europe was 
finally checked by two forces by Bruno in the south 
and by Spinoza in the north. The virile, passionate, and 
rhapsodic Bruno stormed and thundered against the 
personal God while the frail, weak Spinoza did away 
with Him silently. Bruno attempted to shout God out 
of existence/ while Spinoza systematically incased Him 
in dead formulae. A dead God spreads the spirit of 
gloom, and over the world of Spinoza hovers a spirit of 
resignation and despair. 

Just when Western man was planning to secure the 
future, to conquer for himself an impregnable position 


in life and to make it more comfortable, joyous, and 
satisfactory, Spinoza with his dead God and his spirit 
of gloom announced to bustling Western humanity that 
man is irretrievably lost in this life. This pessimistic 
tone in an optimistic world, this message of universalism 
to an individualistic humanity, caused man to change 
Spinoza's first name from Benedictus to Maledictus. 
This turn of fate foreshadowed the influence he was 
about to wield. 


Every world-picture, no matter how abstract, com- 
plicated, subtle, or detached from religiosity it may be, 
contains a religious message and addresses itself to 
humanity. There is a sharp line of demarcation sepa- 
rating religion and philosophy. The goal of religion is 
salvation and that of philosophy is truth. Yet even the 
most abstract type of philosophy contains a religious 
element, and the greater its development the faster its 
expansion. What is true of religiosity in philosophy is 
all the more true of religiosity in religion. Buddhism 
spread with amazing rapidity because it is the incarna- 
tion of genuine religiosity. It also has a deep metaphys- 
ical background which is not religious but philosophical 
in character, for it contains its own theory of knowledge, 
logics, and morals. Philosophically, Buddhism is too 
subtle to captivate the masses, yet because of its deep 
religious content it has a wide appeal. Of Judaism the 
reverse is true. From the point of view of Aryan re- 
ligiosity it is much inferior to Buddhism. It addresses 
itself not to man's emotions but to his reason, and seeks 
to regulate his feelings by his intellect. Such an attitude 
is not compatible with true religiosity, which teaches 
the primacy of feeling. Everyone responds to a power- 


ful emotional appeal, but only a few can respond to an 
intellectual call. For this reason Judaism has been con- 
fined to only one people. 

To the extent that philosophy aims at salvation and 
redemption does it possess possibilities of conquering 
and subjugating man. The triumphs of heretic Spino- 
zism illustrate this principle. Spinoza's teachings were 
already known outside of Holland during the final years 
of his life. So fast did his fame spread that at a time 
when no Jew could occupy an academic position in 
Central and Western Europe he was invited to fill the 
chair of philosophy in the University of Heidelberg, one 
of the most important seats of learning of the time in 
Germany. However, his contemporary, Leibnitz, the 
father of the German enlightenment, who created an 
optimistic world-picture, always remained only a philos- 
opher for philosophers. Even Immanuel Kant, although 
always famous, was never popular. In his own father- 
land he was all but forgotten for most of the nineteenth 
century until revived by Hermann Cohen and his school. 
Spinoza, however, was never exhumed because he was 
never buried. Kant, because of his exclusive intellec- 
tuality, has influenced only his students, while Spinoza, 
because of his emotional appeal, has ruled even those 
who have never heard his name. 

The rise, triumph, and victory of Spinozism in Europe 
are reminiscent of the power of ancient Buddhism be- 
cause both are religiosity rather than philosophy. 
Spinozism is religion even when it operates with bi- 
zarre formulas. Its starting-point is a dead God, who is 
reminiscent of Buddha's Brahma. It is man's meta- 
physical fear and not the idea of a living God which is 
the driving force in religiosity. True religiosity is not an 


understanding of how God is correlated to man and to 
the world but the feeling of man's insignificance in the 
cosmos, giving birth to a state of meekness, humbleness, 
compassion, and pity. Only when man is crushed and 
overwhelmed by the thought of his insignificance in this 
vast universe does he become truly religious. These 
feelings are as present in Spinozism as they are in 
Buddhism. Judaism, however, which stresses the su- 
premacy of man, fills him with the feeling of his own 
strength. It encourages him to become a stormer of 
heaven and to measure his strength not only with nature 
but with God Himself. Nothing is more characteristic 
of the Old Testament than the expression, "Thou shalt 
be like God." Buddhism, by teaching that only naught 
is truth and only when life will again reach a state of 
naught will it again be truth, thereby paralyzed man's 
initiative. Instead of commanding him to carry on his 
struggle with the forces of eternity, it teaches him to 
resign from life. His only relationship to his fellow- 
creatures is his compassion and pity for them. The 
Buddhistic Spinoza, too, exclaimed that we are only 
slaves of nature and consequently slaves of God. What 
can be more terrifying and frightening to living man 
than to be subject to a dead God? Yet this doctrine has 
made a stirring appeal to the vast circle of salvation- 
seekers who find an asylum in it. It was, therefore, for 
good reason that the earliest Spinozists were members of 
pious sects. 


In ancient times it was a Jew, St. Paul, who stormed 
westward with the message of Christianity, spelling 
redemption and salvation. In the seventeenth century 
it was a Jew, Spinoza, who duplicated this feat. Both 


men were, at the same time, rabbinic as well as western- 
ized Jews. They appeared at a time when humanity was 
satiated with intellectualism. When Hellenistic culture 
with its pagan motives, its lascivious festivities, its car- 
nal joys and intoxicating orgies, its illuminated temples 
and its great theaters, held sway over Western Asia and 
parts of Northern Africa, a sickly, ascetic, and epileptic 
Jew, preaching self-denial and the negation of life, arose 
and undermined its foundation. His message silenced a 
noisy world, transforming joy into sadness, arrogance 
into humility, aggressiveness into meekness, and the 
call of the flesh into abject self-denial. This message of 
salvation determined the destinies of Europe for a 
thousand years. 

In the seventeenth century the echoes of the Renais- 
sance were still ringing throughout Western Europe. 
Man was still reaching for the stars and striving with 
nature to wrest from it its deepest secrets and beautiful 
forms. Furthermore, the self-denial of the Dark Ages 
gave way to a hedonistic age. Rabelais roared, Mon- 
taigne doubted, and Descartes was convinced. Each, 
in his affirmation of life, expressed the sentiments of his 
day. In this world of joy and restiveness, aggressive- 
ness, and creativeness, stirring man to memorable tri- 
umphs over nature, arose a poor, frail, and consumptive 
Jew who announced that man is only a slave of nature, 
that his position in the universe is insignificant, that he 
is wandering upon this planet without rhyme or reason, 
that like God he is chained to eternal and immutable 
laws, is deprived of his freedom and can find happiness 
only in the recognition of life's futility. 

What more striking analogy to St. Paul can be found ? 
Both men were irrationalistic in their rationalism. Both 


were mystics, who denied life, teaching predestination 
and thereby delivering man to fate. They sought only 
salvation, not truth. The doctrines of these two rab- 
binic Jews have been interpreted by the synagogue as 
being a betrayal of Judaism. This attitude can be read- 
ily understood from the very nature of the Jewish mind. 
The Jew has always been an extremist. On the one 
hand, he produced a Moses, who was so enamored with 
earthly life that he was ashamed to die, and, on the 
other, a Jesus, who so despised earthly life that he was 
almost ashamed to live. Prophet and wrongdoer, pa- 
triot and traitor, saint and sinner, scholar and ignora- 
mus, were all Jews. The intellectual Hillel and the mys- 
tical St. Paul were Jews. In modern times Fritz Stahl, 
the founder of Prussian Junkerism, and Karl Marx, the 
founder of socialism, Leon Trotski, the true founder of 
the Bolshevik state, and David Pasmanik, the theore- 
tician of the Russian Czarists and pogromists, were all 
Jews. Therefore, it is not shocking to see St. Paul as only 
the other self of Rabbi Saul of Tarsus and Baruch d'Es- 
pinoza as the other cheek of Benedictus Spinoza. It is 
one of history's little ironies that Jewish thought upon 
reaching a certain height should turn into its contrary 
and that two Jews should become the foremost repre- 
sentatives of anti- Judaism. 


One of the most stupefying phenomena in the history 
of the Occident is the enormous influence which ancient 
Judaism has had upon the march of events for the last 
two thousand years. This influence has made itself felt 
particularly in the north. From pre-Reformation days 
to the present all branches of the Teutonic race have 


engaged in a life-and-death struggle for the Bible and 
against Rome. On the Continent, Martin Luther, by 
his translation of the Bible into German, was instrumen- 
tal in creating one German language which united all 
Germanic tribes into one nation. In England, the King 
James translation of the Bible became the source of 
modern English culture. In the heyday of biblicism in 
England it was even proposed in the House of Commons 
that English be replaced by ancient Hebrew. Even the 
Romantic school could not interrupt the continued in- 
fluence of Old Testament religiosity upon English intel- 
lectual life. 

In the sixteenth century European culture was still 
Latinized. Latin was the universal language of science, 
philosophy, and theology. Suddenly, because of the 
Reformation, ancient Rome lost its hold upon the entire 
land and was replaced by ancient Judea. The change 
was not merely one of masters but also of spirit. This 
change can be seen in the new lyrical approach to na- 
ture and in the new conception of the importance of 
man. In Germany this new tendency reached its height 
in Klopstock and Handel and in England in Milton. 
This biblical tendency not only shaped the spiritual des- 
tinies of the Germanic peoples, but also affected their 
political outlook. By emancipating them from Rome it 
guided them along the path of nationalism. 

What has been the lure of Old Testament religiosity 
for the Teutonic peoples? It did not emphasize beauty, 
Eros, and the cult of the senses. The magic power of 
this religiosity lies in its individualism. The northerner, 
who is constantly engaged and absorbed in a struggle 
with nature, must rely upon his own powers to over- 
come it. He thereby becomes an individualist and can- 


not possibly feel himself to be a part of nature. Just as 
monistic pantheism is a product of the Tropics, so is in- 
dividualistic religiosity a product of temperate climes. 
The distinct individualism of the Bible could not but 
affect the northerner, who himself considered nature to 
be the domain of highly individualistic forces. Not so 
much the beliefs, views, and ideas of the Old Testament 
captivated him as did its living figures in whom he read- 
ily recognized eternal characters, and its ethical percepts 
which reflected his own conception of justice. The ap- 
pearance of Spinoza came as such a shock because, living 
in a Western individualistic world and hailing from an 
individualistic people, he conveyed to the Occidental an 
Eastern universalistic message in Western terms. 


Philosophy has definite schools consisting of rights 
and lefts, but religion not emanating from the intellect 
is an irregular stream. The lines of Kantianism or of 
Hegelianism are sharply drawn, but those of Spinozism 
are not. Like every great expression of deep religious 
consciousness, it is rather vague despite its precise for- 
mulas. Nor is it of one color, for it has attracted a 
variety of people with a variety of temperaments. It 
inspired the men of the enlightenment of the eighteenth 
century because of its critical and often negative atti- 
tude toward organized religions. It influenced the lib- 
erals because of its doctrine of freedom of speech and 
thought. It captivated the imagination of despots and 
tyrants because of its identification of might and right. 
It electrified poets because of the grandeur of its concep- 
tion of nature. It fascinated philosophers and psychol- 
ogists with its doctrine of the una substantia. It fasci- 


nated the pious and the impious, the rationalists and 
the irrationalists. The multitude of the rays and colors 
which emanate from it has been the source of both its 
strength and its weakness. However, its multicolored 
prism testifies to its religious character. Purely philo- 
sophical thought is either an affirmation or a negation. 
But Spinozism teaches both oneness and multitudinous- 
ness, rationalism and mysticism. The realization of this 
contrast will help to explain the paradoxical phenome- 
non called Spinozism. 





rAN THE TERRIBLE'S magnificent cathedral, 
Gabriel the Redeemer, looks down with mixed feel- 
ings upon the holy sepulcher of Nikolai Lenin the 
Terrible on the Red Square, abutting the Kremlin Wall. 
It beholds with amazement the milling throngs winding 
across the square to and from the low iron railing 
around the mausoleum. In deathlike silence masses of 
people ascend and descend a red-carpeted staircase and 
turn right, to where a corridor leads them into the little 
squat cellar. There lies Lenin on a simple couch beneath 
a glass pyramid. He is enshrouded in khaki tunic with 
the Order of the Red Flag on his breast. Red soldiers 
with fixed bayonets stand motionless at the head and 
foot of the squat base and along the walls of the tomb 
which taper up in conical slant and give to the whole 
structure an exotic, oriental appearance. This tomb is 
the Russian shrine. Here hundreds of thousands of peo- 
ple from all parts of the Red Russian Empire worship 
with the same religious fervor and devotion as do the 
Christian faithful at the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, 
or as do the devout Jews at the Wailing Wall, for Lenin, 
symbol of the new Russia, is in himself the apotheosis 
of the communist creed. 

It is perhaps no stupid coincidence that Ivan the 
Terrible's cathedral, Gabriel the Redeemer, overlooks 
the Red holy sepulcher, for Russia's destiny was always 
presided over by someone "terrible." If not Ivan, it was 



Paul, or Alexander, or Nikolai, the Terrible. Russian 
terribleness is the secret of Russian might and the meth- 
od of Russian domination. Both Ivan the Terrible and 
Nikolai Lenin imposed their rule upon the Russian peo- 
ple, since both were Russia personified. The fact that 
Ivan was black and Lenin red makes little difference. 
The figure of Lenin would be altogether enigmatic had it 
not the figure of Ivan as its background. Lenin more than 
Ivan the Terrible is the apotheosis of modern Russia. 

Nikolai Lenin, the first great inquisitorial figure since 
Torquemada, like his black predecessor in Spain, was 
concerned with saving souls, or, as he called it in his 
language, "minds." He, too, was ready to kill the body 
to save the mind (the soul). In one of his letters to 
Maxim Gorky he speaks of the necessity of breaking 
skulls; and upon this principle he established his ruth- 
less r6gime, to which there is no analogy in the political 
annals of white humanity. Leninism is the inquisition 
regime reincarnated. It is the regime of brute force, 
which completely disregards the individual and his 
rights. It is the triumph of absolute universalism over 
individualism, and leaves no room for personality, free- 
dom, or individual expression. Leninism is brute na- 
ture's force translated into politics. 

The philosophic patron saint of Lenin's state is none 
other than Baruch Spinoza, the lonely Dutch Jew from 
Portugal whose earthly remains found a final resting- 
place in a Christian church. Although Lenin's relation- 
ship to the doctrine of Spinoza is, as far as I know, not 
recorded, his disciples understood that the two were 
linked indissolubly. Therefore, when in 1927 the two- 
hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of Baruch Spinoza's 
death was observed throughout the Western world, the 


reigning powers in Lenin's state proclaimed Spinoza the 
official philosopher of Red Russia. Until that time this 
position had been held by Immanuel Kant, and many 
Bolshevik theoreticians considered themselves to be 
neo-Kantians. But, when they discovered that neo- 
Kantianism with its doctrine of the autonomy of will, 
or even of free will, is not compatible with their deter- 
ministic world-concept, they immediately replaced Kant 
with Spinoza. Thus it came to pass that the philosophy 
of the lonely Jew of Amsterdam became the official creed 
of this state which occupies a sixth part of the habitable 

Nikolai Lenin was a man of action who was but little 
interested in matters purely metaphysical. 1 Although 
he was a follower of Karl Marx, he entertained no rela- 
tionship to any of the other major philosophers of an- 
cient or modern times. Yet as determinist, universalist, 
and naturalist he was actually nearer to Spinoza than 
to any other philosopher. If he was not consciously a 
follower of Spinoza, he was surely his adherent subcon- 
sciously, for otherwise Spinoza would never have been 
proclaimed as the philosophic patron saint of Lenin's 
state. Lenin's mind was hewn from the rock of Spino- 
zism, and, because his mind imposed itself firmly upon 
Russia, Christianity in Russia actually was replaced 
with Spinozism. 

1 In all the thirty-four volumes of the collected works of Lenin, published by 
the Lenin Institute in Moscow, Spinoza's name occurs only once The manner in 
which he refers to Spinoza makes it almost certain that if he knew him at all he 
knew him secondhand. 

Lenin's interest m philosophy was of a purely partisan nature. His measure of 
truth was historical materialism and, whenever he suspected in a system of phi- 
losophy a challenge to his truth, he fought it m a typical Bolshevik manner. It is 
for this reason that he fought Mach and Avenarius and their followers m Russia. 
The struggle of the classes is to Lenin, a metaphysical category; he traces it to 
his category of polarity. 


Lenin, however, was not the only ruthless politician 
who embraced Spinozism dejacto. Bismarck, the iron 
chancellor, who forged the Wilhelminic German Empire, 
was also a disciple of Spinoza. He was as symbolic of 
Teutonic might as was Lenin of Russian power. The 
man who waged three wars within seven years, who 
humbled the Hapsburg realm and annihilated the sec- 
ond French Empire, was both a believer in and an 
admirer of the lonely Jewish lens-grinder. 3 Intimate 
friends of the chancellor often related that in moments 
of restlessness he would always concentrate on Spino- 
za's Ethics. He admitted that the reading of Spinoza 
had the same calming effect on his mind as his occupa- 
tion with geometric problems. 

To Bismarck, however, Spinoza was not merely a 
comforter and a spiritual guide but was a political in- 
spiration. Although Bismarck made the first attempt to 
socialize the German Empire, and regarded the state as 
being much more than an insurance company, he was, 
nevertheless, greatly impressed by Spinoza's political 
doctrine. Spinoza's predilection for the aristocratically 
governed state, as well as his dictum that the sphere of 
right is delimited by the sphere of might, appealed great- 
ly to Bismarck. Hence, it is not blind chance that men 
like Lenin and Bismarck were Spinozists, either in fact 
or in theory. 

Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher of the superman, 

"About Bismarck's relationship to Spinoza, the iron chancellor's biographer, 
Busch, is very explicit "Bismarck occupied himself with Spinoza in his student 
days, and though we do not know exactly to what an extent he had adjusted himself 
to the latter's world concept, we have a right to assume that it influenced him con- 
siderably and that it was one of the causes of his Webschmerz y which attacked him 
m those days and which later on colored his entire mentality." 

All of Bismarck's other biographers mention the chancellor's deep interest m 


of the blond beast, and the rhapsodist of brute power, 
was also a Spinoza enthusiast. This seems to be the 
more unnatural since Nietzsche was an ultra-individ- 
ualist and Spinoza was the incarnation of universalism. 
In addition, Nietzsche was one of the very few out- 
spoken atheists of the West while Spinoza is commonly 
referred to as a God-intoxicated Jew. At first, it is not 
discernible what Nietzsche could have had in common 
with Spinoza, but the author of Thus Spake Zarathustra 
expressed himself very clearly on his attitude and rela- 
tionship to him. 

I am quite astonished! I am full of delight! I have a predecessor 
and what a predecessor! I almost did not know Spinoza! That I 
have an urge for him now was a turn of the instinct. Not only does 
his whole tendency equal mine to make recognition the most pow- 
erful effect but in five principal points of his doctrine, I redis- 
cover mine. This most abnormal and lonely thinker is nearest to 
me in just these things; he denies the freedom of will ; the ends ; 
the moral world order ; the unegotistic ; the evil ; Though 
the differences are immense, they are rather to be found in time, 
culture, and science; but on the whole, my solitude, which like on 
the peak of high mountains, has caused me hard breathing and 
made my blood pour forth, is now at least a dualitude. 

This is a remarkable confession of faith. Innumerable 
historians of philosophy and of culture have traced 
Nietzsche's creed to all sorts of philosophies, religions, 
cultures, and schools of thought. Yet Nietzsche, him- 
self, traced not only his philosophy but his entire per- 
sonality 3 to Spinoza* Just as Richard Wagner furnished 

3 Nietzsche's philosophy has been described by Rudolf Eisler as naturalistic 
pantheism. Fritz Mauthner, in his History of Atheism in the Wcst> IV, 360, glorifies 
him as the greatest atheist of modern times, quoting the remarkable passage from 
Zarathustra, "I am Zarathustra the atheist. I still cook every accident in my own 

Benedict Lachman, in his. book Protagoras, Nietzsche, Stirner y stresses the solip- 
sist Nietzsche. Nietzsche's philosophy is best summed up in Hans Vammgcr's 
Nietzsche als Philosoph (Berlin, 1912). 


the music to Bismarck's roaring guns, so did Nietzsche 
furnish the rhapsodies to Bismarck's fiery cannons. If 
Bismarck stood with one foot in Spinozism, Nietzsche 
stood with both feet in it. So enamored was he with 
Spinoza that he regarded him as a kindred atheistic 
spirit/ which was the highest compliment he could pay 

Nietzsche, Lenin, and Bismarck were all more pre- 
occupied with the future than with the present. Lenin 
wished to redeem the entire human race and to become 
its Messiah, for he believed himself to be eschatology 
personified. His future-consciousness was almost an- 
cient Hebraic in character and was full of messianic 
motives. He visualized the last day as being flaming 
red with communism reigning supreme. Bismarck was 
less ambitious, for he was anxious to redeem only the 
Teutonic race. Nietzsche's future-consciousness actual- 
ly borders on the psychopathological. The impetuosity 
with which he expected the superman of the future, as 
a redeemer of the human race, is characteristic of his 

These three men, representing the motives of might, 
visualized the future in their own way, and strove to 
impose upon it their personality and their spirit: Bis- 
marck, the spirit of the rule of the bourgeoisie; Lenin, 
the rule of the proletariat; and Nietzsche, the rule of 
the superman or of the aristocrat. All three men, thirsty 


"Dem 'Ems in allem* hebend zugewandt 
Amor Dei, sehg aus Ver stand 
Die Schuhe aus! Welch dreimal heilig Land! 
Doch unter dteser Liebe frass 
Em heimhch glimmender Rachebrand 
Am Judengott frass Judenhatss 
Emsiedler, hab' ich dich erkannt?" 


for power and overwhelmed with future-consciousness, 
were influenced by Spinoza. But his true political in- 
fluence does not end with Lenin, or Bismarck, or Nietz- 
sche. He helped to shape the philosophy of Hegel, the 
philosophical patron saint of Prussian reactionism. To 
the extent that Hegelianism had been a political force 
in the Western world 5 has Spinoza's political influence 
been a positive and a potent factor in white man's land. 

Four major cultural streams spring from Hegel's sys- 
tem : right Hegelianism, which determined the course of 
German political life and thought for over half a century ; 
left Hegelianism, as applied to the historic and economic 
process, which resulted in the communist manifesto of 
1848; left Hegelianism as it determined the course of 
religious development in Germany; and the Hegelian 
theory of the state as embodied in the doctrines of La 
Salle, which are a synthesis of Hegel's theory of the 
state and Fichte's theory of German nationalism. Be- 
hind all these major tendencies which have reshaped not 
only German but European life and thought for almost 
a century lurks the enigmatic figure of the lonely Jew of 

Hegel's interest in Spinoza dates back to his acquaint- 
ance with Spinoza's political philosophy. He was so 
captivated by it that he actually said that to be a philos- 
opher one must first be a Spinozist. He discovered in 
Spinoza what he missed in Kant, namely, a more inti- 
mate connection between knowledge and action and 
theory and practice. Hegel's infamous saying, "That 
which is, is rational," bears the brand of Spinoza. 

Not so much Hegel's general philosophy, panlogi- 

s Hitlensm is Hegelianism via Spengler His "third realm" is the synthesis of the 
thesis of the first and the antithesis of the second German Reich. 


cism, as his philosophy of law and politics, of which the 
right Hegelians, the representatives of both Prussian 
and Russian reaction, 6 made ample use, can be easily 
traced to Spinoza. Spinoza's preference for the aristoc- 
racy as a ruling power appealed strongly to them. 

It may be noted in passing that in spite of Spinoza's 
vast influence on modern political thought and action, 
his name is not connected with any emancipation move- 
ment, or with any revolutionary tendency. The French 
Revolution ignored him. While this may be partly due 
to Bayle's misrepresentation of Spinoza's doctrine and 
also to the fact that during the first half of the eight- 
eenth century Spinoza was more the target of theolo- 
gians than a magnet to philosophers and statesmen, 
one must admit that even without those incidents 
Spinoza could not have had any appreciable influence 
on the emancipation movement. The term "emancipa- 
tion" involves the term of freedom, and implies a vital- 
istic process instead of a mechanical course. Every for- 
ward movement in history presumes a dynamic person- 
ality and progress-consciousness. None of these con- 
ceptions had any meaning to Spinoza. 

Neither the French Revolution nor any of its great 
figures such as Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Condillac, 
or Holbach were influenced by him. Although neither 
his general works nor his political philosophy appealed 
to them, many of them were more or less familiar with 
his teachings. But to the irreligious among them he 
was too much the religionist, and to the religiously in- 

6 Czaristic Russia, to the extent that it was philosophically oriented, drew its 
inspiration from right Hegeliamsm, while Bolshevik Russia, being Marxistic, is 
politically an offshoot of left Hegeliamsm. Both political orientations can be traced 
to Spinoza. 


clined he was too much the atheist. 7 But his political 
philosophy could not possibly appeal to them. They 
urged political freedom, and their slogan was "Equality, 
Liberty, and Fraternity." They were permeated with the 
spirit of humanitarianism, and looked upon this world sub 
specie boni, from the purely human point of view. To 
them man was both their starting-point and their goal, 
and his political, economic, and social happiness was of 
primary concern and importance. But Spinoza looked 
at the world not from the human but from the cosmic 
point of view, and in his world-system man occupies but 
an insignificant position. It, therefore, could not be ex- 
pected that the intellectual leaders of the French Revo- 
lution should take their cue from Spinoza. Voltaire was 
the only one of them who concerned himself in any 
manner with Spinoza. While he examined Spinoza's 
philosophy critically, he admired Spinoza only for his 
religiosity and piety. The man who said that "if God 
did not exist He would have to be invented" could not 
have been influenced by Spinoza's philosophy. 8 He was 
deeply puzzled that such a pious man as Spinoza could 
produce so impious a philosophy: "II renversait tout 
les principes de la morale, en 6tant lui-mme d'une 
vertu rigide." 

Thus we see the pious and genial recluse of Amsterdam 
becoming the delight of all autocrats and despots and 

7 See Montesquieu, Persian Letters, 59. 

8 "Alors un petit Juif, au long nez, au teint bl&ne, 

Pauvre, mais satisfait, pensif et retire 1 , 
Esprit subtil et creux, moins lu que clbre, 
Cache* sous le manteau de Descartes, son maitre, 
Marchant a pas comptes, s'approcha du grant Stre: 
'Pardonnez-moi,' dit-il, en lui parlant tout bas, 
Mais je pense, entre nous, que vous n'existez pas," 


the hope of those who thirst for power, but the same 
became the source of inspiration to lyrical poets and 
philosophical romanticists as well. How strange a spec- 
tacle that from one and the same source darkness and 
light emanated. 


The influence Spinoza exercised over philosophical 
idealists and poets such as the romantic school of phi- 
losophy and poetry made it appear that his own doc- 
trine is idealistic in nature. But the test of all philosophic 
idealism is not the influence which a certain philosophi- 
cal system has upon succeeding generations but the posi- 
tion which man occupies in that system. In them man 
is the central theme, the starting-point, and the goal. 
Wherein consists the greatness of Socrates? By discov- 
ering ethics he discovered man, for man is the central 
figure of ethics. The man with whom ethics is concerned 
is not empiric man, nor even man as a social atom. Eth- 
ics is interested in man only in so far as he is capable of 
the good. Empiric man is only part of nature, which is 
not within the purview of ethics. The origin of ethics in 
the Occident bears out this assertion. When Socrates 
discovered man, he placed him in contradistinction to 
nature. 9 Socrates' positive attitudes to man grew paral- 
lel with his negative attitude to physics. His interest in 
man grew out of a wild negative reaction to biological 
nature. Many later Greek philosophers followed in Soc- 
rates' footsteps. 

Plato, like all great philosophers, was disinterested in 
the isolated individual or in biological man. He quickly 
discovered that only within organized society is an in- 

9 "I can learn nothing from the stone or from the tree, but from man I can learn 
everything," he is reported to have said. 


dividual an organic part of humanity. The state, so he 
sets forth in his Republic, has a soul, and he is concerned 
only with man who participates in that soul. It is only 
within the state that man loses his beastliness. It is 
only as a citizen who participates in the common weal 
that he becomes part of humanity. The isolated indi- 
vidual never rises to the heights of humaneness. Only 
organized humanity within the state frees the individ- 
ual from the shackles of self-consciousness and makes 
him recognize his fellow-man as a shareholder in a spirit- 
ual community. 

Aristotle's conception of man is less idealistic, but, 
nevertheless, it expresses all the character of the genius 
of classical antiquity. Man is a social and a political 
being because he is the weakest of all the higher animals. 
He can triumph in his struggle for existence only as a 
social being with the assistance of his fellow-men. Thus, 
from whatever point of view the genius of classical an- 
tiquity regarded man, it surely did not visualize empiric 
man. The state was not merely a mechanism, or an 
insurance company. It was an organic whole of which 
the individual was a part. 

In the world of Spinoza, however, man and his posi- 
tion sink into insignificance. He becomes only one of 
the modi, one of transient things, and vanishes from 
sight the moment everything that stretches before us in 
infinite space is viewed cosmically, or, in the language of 
Spinoza, sub specie aeternitatis. Thus man, who con- 
siders himself to be the crown of creation, becomes a 
shadow of an illusion. An isolated social atom, a mere 
modus, requires no culture or civilization, for in com- 
parison to eternity he is so insignificant, so meaningless, 
that any attempt to correct his fate would be ludicrous. 


All philosophical idealists have viewed man sub specie 
boniy from the point of view of man, and have thus be- 
come great consolers and comforters. If there is any- 
thing in this world that is likely to fill man's soul with 
sadness, it is the message that he is only some insignifi- 
cant accident in the cosmic fabric, that he is unimpor- 
tant and meaningless. The purely cosmic conception of 
man is the kindling point of all pessimism. 

Religion, the great consoler and comforter of man, has 
with the exception of Hinduism always refused to view 
him from the cosmic angle. Man is the measure of all 
things. The greatest message of Christianity is that 
man is the central figure of world-history. For does it 
not begin with a biography which has man as its main 
theme? Man's position in Christianity made it irresisti- 
ble to Western man. In the Old Testament, too, man 
is the central figure. He is the last stage of development 
and the aim and purpose of the cosmos. Not mute na- 
ture, but man, is God's man concern. 

Judaism and Christianity may disagree about God, 
his essence, his attributes, and his functions, but to 
both man is the most important force in the cosmos. 
Physically man's insignificance is obvious, and were he 
merely a part of nature, he would be no more valuable 
than any other creature. Yet all religions except Hindu- 
ism, as well as all major philosophies except Spinozism, 
agree that, man cannot be measured by nature's yard- 
stick. Man's own accomplishments bear out this atti- 
tude of religion to him. If he were only subject to the 
immutable laws of nature, he surely would have been 
unable to have bent nature, for the part cannot bend the 
whole. He conquered the air, although he has no wings. 
He conquered space, although his physical motive pow- 


er is insignificant. He conquered the vast bodies of 
water, although he cannot swim very far. To assume 
that he accomplished these conquests only as a part of 
nature must puzzle the ox and the elephant, who could 
not accomplish any of these things. Neither idealistic 
philosophy nor religion intends merely to humor man 
by assigning to him an extraordinary place in the uni- 
verse. They do it because man owes a double allegiance 
to two realms to that of nature and to that of the 
spirit. All other creatures only have a position in the 
realm of nature. Hence nature alone cannot explain 

Spinoza, the mechanist, knows man only as an empiric 
being, as a part of nature subject to nature's laws. 
Hence his state, too, is only a mechanism. If his cosmos 
is a mechanical macrocosmos, his state is a mechanical 
microcosmos. Just as Spinoza's nature, governed by the 
absolute laws of causation, is stiff, rigid, and cold, so is 
his state completely despiritualized. It has no functions 
to perform other than the maintenance of law and order 
because man is not a social being by nature. It aims to 
satisfy only external needs and to secure existence for 
the individual. Only to the extent that the individual 
depends upon the state for his security must he subject 
himself to its laws. Even Hobbes, the philosophical 
founder of political absolutism, whose state emerged 
from a war of all against all, and who also considered 
organized government as a sort of insurance company, 
imposed upon the state more tasks than Spinoza. 10 

History to Spinoza was nothing more than a continua- 
tion of nature's mechanical process, for he evaluated 
man and things sub specie aeternitatis. Consequently, 

10 Problems and the Tasks of the State 


the state as the greatest and most powerful phenome- 
non in history is also a continuation of nature. To him 
politics is only a department of natural science. 

Theoretically, Spinoza's starting-point is quite differ- 
ent from that of Hobbes and Machiavelli. Machiavelli's 
nature is the nature of history; Hobbes's nature is a 
hypothetical and fictitious nature; but Spinoza's nature 
is neither fictitious nor hypothetical, but nature as it is 
governed by the laws of causation. Since his state is an 
extension of his nature, he cannot possibly accept any 
of the other social and philosophical doctrines propound- 
ed before him. It is not man's task to realize a certain 
state idea, just as it is not the task of the state to realize 
the highest good, that is to say, moral perfectibility. 
The status civihs is deduced directly from the status 
naturalis. In the natural state, the sphere of right is 
delimited by the fulness of might, and has neither law 
nor justice, nor virtue. The only norm of law is nature, 
and whatever is contrary to nature is also contrary to 
law. In the natural state, man has no property rights, 
for such rights arise in the state only through the me- 
dium of compromise and double-dealing. In biological 
nature, antagonisms and unevennesses are smoothed 
out by nature, but in man's realm nature itself creates 
causes of division. This very nature brings about the 
transition from the status naturalis by the manifestation 
of the instinct of self-preservation. Only purely utilita- 
rian considerations force man from the natural state of 
things into that of organized government, because only 
the latter can secure life and property to the individual. 

All things in the universe, according to Spinoza, are 
absolutely determined. They are completely dependent 
upon one substance and its attributes, from which all 


forces emanate. And yet, out of a clear sky, Spinoza 
says that man is animated by the desire to preserve 
himself. Whence does this desire come from? It does 
not follow from what Spinoza has to say about man. 
Yet it is this desire, suddenly discovered, with which he 
explains the phenomenon called "state." 

Hobbes's state is a suspended law of nature, Spinoza's 
a tamed beast. It does not mitigate against Spinoza's 
political naturalism when he declares that the best state 
is that which is guided by reason, for the state was not 
created by and for reason. His starting-point is mechan- 
ical nature, which is a-rational and a-ethical. It is a 
machine, and therefore cannot be a source of inspiration. 
Organized government requires loyalty, allegiance, a 
spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism. It also requires the 
amor soli natalis^ the love of one's native land, which is 
an infinite source of inspiration to the individual. The 
man who has no feeling for his native soil is neither emo- 
tionally nor intellectually normal. One's native soil is 
not just a piece of mechanical nature. Your attitude 
toward the house in which you were born, toward the 
street in which you first moved about, toward the brook- 
let in your native city, toward the fields, the prairies, 
mountains, or valleys surrounding your city, is infinitely 
more than an attitude toward mechanical nature. Often 
the development of man's mind and individuality is 
greatly influenced, if not determined, by the first im- 
pressions he received in his native city or village. They 
constitute an organic whole, to which man can be loyal- 
or disloyal. He cannot, however, be loyal to a machine. 
Will anyone sacrifice himself, or his family, or the future 
of his tribe, for a machine? Can a machine arouse feel- 
ings, sentiments, enthusiasms, wrath, anger, and joy? 


Can a machine impose duties and ethical tasks ? Hence, 
political naturalism is not natural at all but is some- 
thing fictitious and mythical, which has been grafted 
upon man's mind. 

How different is the political philosophy of his con- 
temporary, Leibnitz. He, too, was a realist, but to 
him the state was not a machine or the outgrowth of 
man's will to security, but a cultural community and an 
ethical institution. To him, as to all true philosophers, 
man is more than a part of biological nature. He has a 
great task to fulfil in this world moral perfectibility. 
Like his great master, Plato, Leibnitz, too, insists that 
moral perfectibility is possible only within the state. Its 
task is much more than merely to underwrite the secu- 
rity of the individual. One of its main goals is the reali- 
zation of justice and the intellectual elevation of the 
individual. Its ruler need not be a philosopher, but he 
must be a supervisor of the arts and sciences, for the 
state has a cultural mission to perform. Leibnitz, al- 
though politically conservative, was idealist enough to 
concede to each citizen the right to resist a despot. As 
the father and founder of German enlightenment, he was 
also the founder of a new political era in Germany, and 
many modern political thoughts are traceable to him. 
Leibnitz' starting-point was idealistic in character, and 
although he made political deals he would not recede 
from his position vis-a-vis the state as a cultural and 
ethical institution, with cultural and ethical tasks. 

In his political philosophy as well as in his metaphys- 
ics, Spinoza is the antipode to the basic doctrines of 
his own race. If there is a gulf between the states of 
Spinoza and Leibnitz, there is an unpassable abyss be- 
tween Spinoza's state and that visualized by the an- 


cient prophets of Israel. The latter stressed the ethical 
and cultural mission of the state. If it fails as an ethi- 
cal institution to maintain justice and to serve as man's 
ethical guide, it is only a miserable, unworthy makeshift 
comparable to a state of nature. There can be no ethics 
without an organized community just as there can be no 
justice without law. The contradistinction to lawischaos, 
and chaos is nature. Man, however, is more than a part of 
nature, for he is a creature made in God's image and as 
such must be conscious of his dignity, serving as an ex- 
ample to others. The state must be an ethical institu- 
tion. It must be an example of goodness, from which life 
goes forth. To the prophets of Israel the state is the 
medium between the nation and humanity. The degra- 
dation of the state constitutes not only a danger to its 
own people but to humanity at large. The state as an 
example to others is the ethical ambition of the prophets 
of Israel and thereby becomes the cornerstone of general 

Is it any wonder that Spinoza's theory of the state 
fits both the Russian Soviet State with its veneration of 
the masses and Junker Prussia with its deep contempt 
for them? The Junker may hate Spinoza's secularism 
and his absolute neutrality in state spiritual matters, 
yet Spinoza is his philosophical patron saint, for he 
justifies the absolute control of the many by the few. 
Although Spinoza's conception of the state is shocking 
in its profanity and dazzling in its naturalism, yet great 
poets, religionists and philosophers, historians and 
statesmen, considered him to be a saint. Hemrich 
Heine, who, like all great poets, had a sensitive nose for 

" See my book, Der Staat tm Wandelder Jahrtausende (Stuttgart, 1910), pp 16- 


man, thought that the life of Spinoza was free from all 
blame and so morally spotless that he is reminiscent of 
his divine cousin, Jesus Christ. In a similar vein Renan 
speaks about Spinoza." 

It would be easy to quote the greatest master-minds 
of the last two centuries to demonstrate that they all 
believed in the great piety and humbleness of Spinoza. 
There is not a gleam of lyricism in his whole system. 
There is nothing reminiscent of the soulfulness of Plato, 
or the emotionalism of Schopenhauer, or Nietzsche. 
Everything is mathematics, necessary and cruel. How 
could a pious soul create such an impious theory? If 
the style is the man, as Bouffon said, surely the theory 
is the man. Have there been two Spinozas, one the 
saintly hermit the very personification of piety and 
the other the Machiavellist? All of his biographers tes- 
tify to the fact that his was a harmonious character, that 
he bore no two souls in his breast, and that his was not 
a split personality. Yet Spinoza, the mechanist and 
detefminist, attracted and overwhelmed the highly sen- 
sitive minds of poets and mystics. Is this not a puzzling 

Over the pious thinker of Amsterdam hovers the spirit 
of acosmism the denial of the world. Acosmism makes 
all ethics impossible for it denies all ethical values and 
purposes. But then what does life, with its eternal com- 
ing and going, without purpose or goal, without even the 
possibility of redemption, mean? Man is chained to 
certain eternal and immutable laws from which he can- 

B "II ne demande pas qu'on le suive, il est comme Moise, & qui se reV&ent sur la 
montagne des secrets & mconnus and vulgaires, mais, croyez-le, Messieurs, il a te* 
le Voyant de son ge; il a 6t6 a son heure celm qui a vu le plus profond en Dieu." 

Matthew Arnold says of Baruch Spinoza that his food is in the vera vtta and his 
eyes on the beatific vision. 


not free himself. He must obey them or be destroyed. 
Since they direct him in all his actions, how can he 
change or improve this world? The purpose of ethics is 
to improve life, but Spinoza's ethics and politics are 
merely a description of social mechanics. But then did 
not Spinoza say that man is only a slave of nature? 


Spinoza, the acosmist, eliminated at one stroke many 
of the worries which tortured man's mind and heart. 
The problems of personality and individuality in the 
realm of man and of nature vanish. It was Spinoza's 
acosmism and not his pantheism, mechanism, or natu- 
ralism which eliminated personality from his world, for 
certain types of pantheism feature personality and in- 
dividuality and make man the center of the world. 
When man vanishes from the world all of his problems 
vanish with him. Hence, the problem of world's history 
does not exist for Spinoza. Spinozism is coequal with 
a-historism. Spinoza could not have had any true rela- 
tionship to reality, for just as personality is the most 
striking feature in the realm of nature so is history the 
most powerful factor in the life of man. 

Just as Spinoza had no attitude toward history, so, 
too, did he not have any attitude toward the nation, 
for to him only the state, as a continuation of nature, 
had reality. It should be borne in mind, however, that 
a nation is much more than a mere continuation of na- 
ture. Nation means the general will, as formulated by 
Jean Jacques Rousseau. It is an organic entity, connot- 
ing a group consciousness, a collective will, and many 
other phenomena. While the organic nature of the state 
may be debatable, the organic nature of the nation can- 


not be questioned. The nation, like everything else 
that is soulful and that emerges from the realm of the 
spirit, is not subject only to mechanistic laws of causa- 
tion. While the state may have no feeling or sentiment 
and may move with machine-like precision, the nation is 
moved by spiritual factors. One basic idea expressed by 
one individual may determine the destiny of a nation 
for centuries. One basic thought, one powerful image, 
may carry the nation in a thousand-and-one directions. 
Yet the nation's response to spiritual appeals cannot 
be measured with Spinoza's mathematical yardstick. 

The state may be a characterless ad hoc creation, but 
a nation cannot be an artificial product for it has char- 
acter, depth, height, lyricism, and drama. It is governed 
more by anonymous than by personal and visible forces. 
One unexpected catastrophe of unknown origin in the 
life of a nation will transform its whole character and 
determine its future course and development. The soul 
of America was born on the bloody battlefields of the 
South. Before the Civil War the American was a Euro- 
pean immigrant; yet this catastrophe transformed him 
spiritually and politically into a different ethnic being. 
The memory of a great national figure helps to form a 
nation's character and to enrich it with certain tradi- 
tions, which become driving forces in its life. Can one 
measure scientifically the value of Bismarck, Hinden- 
burg, Lincoln, Clemenceau, Mussolini, or Lenin to their 
respective nations? They imposed their will, character, 
and views upon their peoples, although these attempted 
to resist their all-dominating personalities. After these 
powerful personalities triumphed, they continued to bend 
the nation's will, to mold its character, to give it direc- 
tion, and to shape its destinies. 


Why is one nation more musically gifted than an- 
other? Why did one nation develop the ear and the 
other the eye? Why is one nation creative and the other 
sterile? These are not optic illusions but daily phenom- 
ena. Yet these qualities do not exist in Spinoza's world- 


Spinoza the seer who denied the world, personality, 
history, and the nation has, nevertheless, attracted the 
most powerful creative minds and the most ambitious 
personalities of the last two hundred years. How can 
this almost incredible paradox be explained? 

Occidental humanity has been trained religiously in 
the mysteries of the Trinity, upon which scholastic and 
dogmatic structures were erected. Philosophically, how- 
ever, white humanity was trained in dualism. Both 
Trinity and dualism tortured man's mind, and created 
for him thousands of insoluble problems, and often es- 
tranged him from reality. They almost made hijn forget 
his own ego and doubt his own existence. But Spinoza's 
monism seemed to solve many of man's problems and 
brought happiness and salvation to the seekers after 
truth. The speed with which this doctrine impressed 
itself upon later generations can be discerned from even 
a casual reading of the history of modern science, litera- 
ture, and philosophy. Spinozism as pantheistic religios- 
ity wrested for itself a position in the Western world 
even more rapidly than did Islam in the Eastern world. 
This Spinozistic inundation proves that the Western 
Aryan mind was tired of the spiritual heritage of ancient 
Judea, which was brought to it by the Reformation of 
the north and the Renaissance of the south. By at- 
tempting to demolish the spiritual structure erected by 


his race in the course of thousands of years, Spinoza at- 
tracted to himself many of the most powerful minds of 
modern times. 

It may be observed, however, that Spinoza was not 
the first prominent monist and pantheist in modern 
Europe. A generation before him Bruno conveyed a 
similar message to humanity. Yet Bruno is merely a 
beautiful episode in the history of the human mind, 
while Spinoza is one of its most potent forces. Bruno 
was a rhapsodist and a poet, who was overwhelmed with 
artistic emotions; Spinoza, however, was spiritus purus 
and in his method the prototype of the philosopher. 
Bruno expressed himself in poetic terms; Spinoza, in 
geometric axioms. Bruno's tlan vital may edify and in- 
toxicate the heart, but it does not convince the mind. 
Spinoza's more geometrico, however, if not convincing, 
is at least assuring. The philosophic seeker after truth 
does not desire to be moved or touched, but wishes to be 
convinced and assured. 

Although Bruno is, next to Socrates, the greatest 
martyr in the history of philosophy, Spinoza's character 
is more reassuring and appealed more powerfully to the 
truth-seekers. His personality, calm, retired, reticent, 
cautious, monastic, and saintly, has conquered posterity 
for himself as much as has his philosophy. 13 


The Germans were responsible for three great redis- 
coveries in the realm of culture: the rediscoveries of the 
Bible, Spinoza, 14 and Shakespeare. The rediscovery of 
the Bible, through Luther's translation, shaped not only 

^Even Houston Stewart Chamberlain, that arch anti-Semite, admitted that 
Spinoza was the type of an ideal rabbi. 
14 See bibliographical notes. 


the religious but also the political destinies of the Ger- 
man nation. It helped to unite all of the German tribes 
into one nation, with a unified language. The oneness of 
the language gave birth to the oneness of the nation. 

The rediscovery of Spinoza by the Germans contrib- 
uted to the shaping of the cultural destinies of the Ger- 
man people for almost two hundred years. Just as at the 
time of the Reformation no other spiritual force was as 
potent in German life as the Bible, so during the eight- 
eenth and nineteenth centuries no other intellectual 
force so dominated German life as Spinozism. Spinoza 
became the magnet to German steel. Except for Im- 
manuel Kant and Herbart, Spinoza attracted every 
great intellectual figure in Germany during the last two 
centuries, from the greatest, Goethe, to the purest, 

Spinoza was already known in Germany during the 
last third of the seventeenth century, principally for his 
Theological Political Tractate, which aroused the ire of 
the theologians and theologizing philosophers. Not only 
was his theory attacked, misrepresented, falsified, and 
disfigured, but his character was maligned as well. Thus 
one venomous pamphleteer said in 1702, "Especially 
Spinoza seems to have been hired by Satan to develop 
atheism." 15 Some of the early German critics called him 
"son of hell," "dog," and "skunk." Even scholars of 
reputation, such as Dayling, the great theologian of 
Leipzig University, and Mosheim, the great preacher, 
called Spinozism "impious doctrine" and Spinoza "ab- 
surd atheist." Mosheim asks: 

Is there anything more ridiculous than the thought that God 
and the world are one? The only consequence that arose from Spi- 

tt Max Grunwald, Spinoza in Deutschland, p. 84. 


noza's philosophy is that this dust under our feet also belongs to the 
essence of God. Are dogs and fleas God's organs? Is there anything 
more ridiculous than that? 

The feeling against him assumed such ugly forms that 
even his sympathizers dared not speak well of him. 

This constant attack upon Spinoza was one of the 
causes of his later popularity. Because of this barrage, 
men of dispassionate judgment and moderation deemed 
it necessary to familiarize themselves with all of Spinoza 
instead of with only one of his works. The reaction 
against the predominance of scholasticism and theo- 
logical dogmatism conquered for him a lofty position in 
German cultural life. By the end of the seventeenth 
century the force of the Reformation in Germany had 
spent itself. Intellectual Germany was bored with the 
spirituality of the Reformation, which lost sight of na- 
ture and considered man as an exclusively intellectual 
being. A great longing for nature, which was enhanced 
by Spinoza's naturalism, arose. And so it came to pass 
that he who taught philosophy more geometrico was 
co-responsible for the rise of the romantic movement in 

Out of these conflicting currents the figure of Spinoza 
emerged and soon impressed itself upon the German 
mind. The prior anti-Spinoza movement in Germany 
was not the work of obscure fanatics, but represented 
the labor pains of a new culture, Spinozism. Its rise was 
not a continuation of, but a revolt against, the preceding 
culture of the Reformation. The Reformation spelled 
biblicism, while Spinozism meant anti-biblicism. For 
two hundred years previously the Germans thought in 
biblical terms, images, symbols, and similes. Their 
metaphysics was only biblical metaphysics, that there is 


one God who moves the world from beyond. Spinozism 
completely changed this picture. He taught immanence 
rather than transcendence, pantheism instead of rela- 
tive monotheism; naturalism in place of spiritualism, 
and determinism in lieu of freedom of will. Such transi- 
tions from one extreme to the other could not proceed 
without difficulties and disturbances. The attacks 
against Spinozism were the last agonizing twitches of a 
culture that was about to die. 

Because of the specific epistemological interests of 
English philosophy and the dominance of Cartesianism 
in French thought, Spinoza's philosophical influence was 
centered in Germany. Of the great German figures 
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was the first to come under 
the spell of Spinoza. 16 He was a man of broad vision, 
with a hundred cultural interests and a critical disposi- 
tion of mind, and would not accept any philosophical 
system in its totality. While he did not accept Spino- 
zism in its entirety, he subscribed to its pantheistic doc- 
trines. 17 

But more than he admired Spinoza's philosophy, he 
was attracted to him by his great earnestness of pur- 
pose, his strength of character, and his moral courage. 
He said, "I would rather be named after Spinoza than 
after anyone else/' 18 He even felt that the highest com- 
pliment he could confer on his friend Moses Mendels- 
sohn, whom he greatly admired, was to call him a "sec- 
ond Spinoza." 

Mendelssohn, one of the fathers of the modern Ger- 

16 See bibliographical notes. 

J 7 See Carl Schwartz, Lessing as a Theologian, and Karl Hettner, Geschtchte der 
deutschcn Litteratur des achtoehntcn Jakrhunderts 

18 This admission is the more remarkable since his intimate friend, Moses Men 
delssohn, warned him against Spinoza. 


man enlightenment, was an adherent of Leibnitz. As 
such he could not be a follower of Spinoza, although he, 
too, admired his personality. Furthermore, he failed to 
understand Spinoza, for he could never free himself 
from Bayle's presentation of Spinoza's doctrine. Never- 
theless, this very Mendelssohn, by his controversy with 
Jacobi 19 about Lessing's relationship to Spinoza, was in- 
strumental in making the latter a potent force in Ger- 
man letters. It is interesting to observe that even those 
thinkers who dedicated their lives to the cause of anti- 
Spinozism paid the highest tribute to his personality. 20 
The influence of Spinozism attained its height in Ger- 
many when it overwhelmed Herder, Goethe, and Schil- 
ler, the mental giants of Weimar. Weimar was the 
cradle of modern German culture. It is to the new Ger- 
many what Athens was to ancient Hellas, or Jerusalem 
to ancient Judea, a sea of light and the center of crea- 
tive genius. From Weimar emanated all the great cul- 
tural traditions of the Fatherland, which secured for 
Germany her proud position in the realm of European 
culture. Over this spirit of Weimar hovered the genius 
of Baruch Spinoza. 

19 Jacoby was primarily a religious philosopher, sharing the religious philosophy 
of Jean Jacques Rousseau and emphasizing the needs and interest of the heart over 
those of the intellect. Religion, he said, transforms beastly men into human beings, 
and it also makes men philosophers. If religiosity aims to reveal the will of God, 
religious recognition strives to reveal that which is hidden Just as Rousseau resisted 
the onslaught of French materialism, so Jacoby resisted the tendency of German 
mtellectualism. He recognized in Spinoza the very root of modern materialism. It 
was Jacoby who presented Spinoza to Germany. In his letters on Spinoza, addressed 
to Moses Mendelssohn, he asserts that Spinozism is identical with atheism, and that 
even the philosophies of Wolf and Leibnitz must lead to Spinozism. All attempts to 
demonstrate truth lead to fatalism All true recognition is belief, immediate inner 
knowledge Jacoby fought not only against Spinoza, but also against Kant, Fichte, 
and Schelhng, because he was opposed to the mam intellectual tendencies of his time. 

ao Jacobi says of Spinoza, "Be blessed, you great and saintly Benedictus. Though 
you might err in philosophizing about the nature of the Highest Being, His truth 
was in your soul and His love in your life." 


It was here that Spinozism became a dominating in- 
fluence in the life of the new German culture. But in 
this process of expansion it was transformed into some- 
thing different from the original doctrine of the philoso- 
pher. The creative geniuses of Weimar could not possi- 
bly become reconciled to the mechanistic world-picture 
from which personality was banished. To Goethe per- 
sonality was the highest gift of the Gods to man and 
enjoyed an even higher place in his affections than did 
Spinozism. The same can be said of many other poets 
who later embraced some form of Spinozism. 

Of the Weimarian trio, Herder theologian, poet, his- 
torian, critic, philosopher, and metrician was the first 
to apply Spinozism to historiography and to literary 
history. He was also the only one to recognize in Spino- 
za the renovator of a form of ancient theism. Living 
under the shadow of Goethe and his personality cult, 
he conceived pantheism under the aspect of personality. 
But most of all he appreciated Spinoza for being conse- 
quential and for Spinoza's merits, which consisted pri- 
marily in thinking a thought through to the bitter end." 

To Herder, Spinoza's God was not a dea4 term but a 
dynamic reality in fact, the most active oneness that 
says to itself, "I shall be that I shall be." Here the 
monotheistic tradition and the pantheistic concept met 
peacefully for the first as well as for the last time. But 
in this identification Herder was in error. The "I shall 
be that I shall be" of the Bible is a formula of ancient 
Hebraic monotheism, the synthesis of the two appar- 
ently contradictory elements of personality and univer- 
sality "I" and "being." Spinoza's God, however, is 
only being, deprived of all personality. But Herder, 

21 See bibliographical notes. 


Protestant theologian that he was, could not see this 
contradistinction and naively believed that unless God 
is conceived of pantheistically he cannot be conceived 
of at all. 

In all the philosophical writings of Herder, as well as 
in his letters, Spinoza appears as the systematizer of a 
very ancient world-concept. He thought that all the 
ancient religions taught an immanent rather than a 
transcendental God, who was nevertheless an endowed 
personality. Although Herder recommended Spinozism 
to the Protestant pastors, he believed that Spinozism 
would become not the religion but the philosophy of the 
future, in which all philosophical systems will be united. 

Herder, by applying Spinozistic universalism to his 
literary activities, helped to make Germany the spirit- 
ual center of Europe. He presented to his people many 
poetic treasures of all nations in superb German ver- 
sions, thereby creating in his fellow-countrymen a de- 
sire to familiarize themselves with the outpourings of 
the spirit of other nations. To the present day Germany 
still remains the intellectual clearing house of Europe. 
Thus was Spinozistic universalism transformed into in- 
tellectual and spiritual internationalism. 

The second of the Weimarian trio, Goethe, made Spi- 
noza triumphant in the Fatherland." At first, owing to 
Bayle, Goethe was indifferent to him. It was only in 
1774, after disputing with Jacobi about Spinoza, that 
he discovered in the hermit of Amsterdam his master 
and guide. Thereupon he made a critical study of his 
works, and admitted his regret that he had not pre- 
viously familiarized himself with the doctrines of 

33 See bibliographical notes. 


At first he believed that Spinozism proved not the 
existence of God, but only that existence is God. To 
him, Spinoza, far from being an atheist actually ap- 
peared as the greatest theist and Christian of his time. 
The older he became, the more he identified himself 
with Spinoza and estranged himself from all his tradu- 
cers. Goethe was so overwhelmed by his philosophy 
that he admitted that his mind was not keen and great 
enough to understand him completely. Together with 
Lessing he felt that the highest intellectual compliment 
he could offer anyone was to call him a "second Spi- 


Yet, despite Goethe's adulation of Spinoza, the pan- 
theism of the two men was not the same. Spinoza's 
nature is mechanistic, possessing the stillness of the 
tomb. Goethe's nature is vitalistic and his pantheism 
resembles that of the mystics. God lives in an animated 
nature and is to nature what the blood stream is to the 
body the first cause of all life. Goethe approached the 
world with the eye, not with the ear. He beheld a colorful 
nature full of life and saw the world as a continuous 
process of creation. He could not conceive of a still 
world, not of a silent moment in history. To him the 
world represented itself as perpetuum mobile. Never- 
theless, the vastness and unity of Spinoza's world-pic- 
ture attracted him irresistibly. 

Spinoza was the first philosopher who satisfied all the 
doubts which agitated Goethe from his earliest youth. 
Scores of volumes and dissertations have been written 
upon Goethe's attitude towards Spinoza. Thus Wil- 
helm Dilthey, the foremost recent historian of the 
philosophy of Germany, has traced Spinoza's influence 
upon Goethe and illustrated its different phases. All 


other historians of philosophy have followed this exam- 
ple because the chapter, Spinoza and Goethe, is one of 
the most important in the history of modern German 
culture. The only exception to this tradition was Hous- 
ton Stewart Chamberlain, who in his hatred of Spinoza 
dared to belittle his influence upon Goethe, whom he 
represented as an adherent of Kant. 23 Yet this same 
Chamberlain pictured Jesus of Nazareth as a Nordic 
son. If Jesus could be an Aryan, why could Goethe not 
be a Kantian ? 

The third of the Weimarian trio, Friedrich Schiller, 
also succumbed to the magic of Spinoza's personality. 
Playwright, lyrical poet, philosopher, critic, historian, 
and Kantian, Schiller could not free himself from Spino- 
za's influence, as can be seen by many passages in his 
philosophical letters and poems. Just as Herder applied 
Spinozistic universalism to poetry, so did Schiller apply 
it to the drama in his English Mary Stuart, his Spanish 
Don Carlos, his French Joan of Arc, and his Swiss 
William Tell. His lyrical poetry reflects this universal- 
ism, for he draws his inspiration from the whole of na- 
ture and of human life. To the present day the Germans 
cannot forgive Friedrich Schiller for dramatizing great 
historical episodes of other nations. 

The bulwark of Spinozism in Germany is to be found 
in philosophy and not, as in England, in poetry. The 
great philosophers of modern times, with the exception 
of Schelling and Hegel, knew very little about the his- 
tory of philosophy. Spinoza, too, was a closed book to 
them. Yet the Spinoza controversy assumed such pro- 
portions in Germany that the subject burst in upon 
them from all sides. Even Immanuel Kant had to take 

* Immanuel Kant (Munchen, 1909), chap i. 


a definite stand, since it became clear to him that many 
of his disciples were deserting him in favor of Spinoza. 34 

It is not difficult to understand why Kant's contempo- 
raries speculated so profusely about his possible attitude 
toward Spinoza. They should have understood his neg- 
ative attitude toward Spinoza. In contradistinction to 
Spinoza the monist, Kant is a dualist. He distinguishes 
the realm of phenomena from the realm of noumena, 
or the world of nature from the world of spirit. This 
distinction enables him to assume a realm of transcen- 
dental freedom. In biological nature, the law of causa- 
tion reigns supreme, but in the realm of the spirit free- 
dom is unhampered. He thus shows himself to be a 
dualist of the purest water. All the differences between 
Kant and Spinoza can be thus summarized: Spinoza 
teaches pantheism, a dead God, a static world, a de- 
terminism which includes nature, man, and God, and 
that God is not the cause of substance. Kant, on the 
other hand, teaches theism, freedom for man and God, a 
living God, a dynamic world, and that God is the cause 
of substance. In addition, he rejects the application of 
mathematics to philosophy on theoretical grounds, while 
Spinoza mathematizes philosophy. It is interesting to 
note that eight years before his death, Kant discerned 
Spinozism to be a brand of eastern pantheism and as 
such correlated to Buddhism. 

But nevertheless, Kant was not entirely justified in 
his moody negative attitude to Spinoza, for a more criti- 

** In the Kant Studten, V, 291, by Friednch Hemans, all the objections of Kant 
to Spinoza are enumerated and Kant's attitude to Spinoza summed up in the sen- 
tence, "That in his whole life Kant had a resentment against Spinoza " Especial- 
ly did Kant object to Spinoza's mathematical method. To Kant, Spinoza's thinking 
represented something that is incompatible with genuine knowledge Descartes is 

L spite of his mathematical method. 


cal examination of the basic teachings of the two men 
must show that the fundamental hypothesis of both 
namely, the substance of Spinoza and the thing in itself 
of Kant had much in common since both posited the 
absolute. Kant did not notice that his own conception 
of the absolute supersensuous, from which both his 
realms emanated, greatly resembled Spinoza's theory of 
substance. It was this very oversight, together with his 
subjectivism, which finally resulted in the overthrow of 
his own system and in the victory of Spinozism in Ger- 
many. Kant's subjectivism, which was primarily con- 
cerned with the mechanism of man's reason, was forced 
to bow to Spinoza's objectivism which began from the 
All. Although Kant's critical philosophy smashed dog- 
matism and scholasticism in Germany, it, in its turn, 
shared a similar fate. While in the end Kant and Spi- 
noza do not seem to be so far apart, they yet represent 
two different types of thinking. To this extent Kant 
found his antipode in Spinoza. Kant felt that his sepa- 
ration of both worlds left an unbridgeable abyss into 
which man was afraid to venture. Therefore he resorted 
to an attempt at monism by postulating the absolute 
supersensuous, which is responsible for the Harmonia 
mundi, the "Harmony of the World." In Kant this at- , 
tempted monism is an afterthought which he resorted 
to in order to escape embarrassment, while in Spinoza 
it is the starting-point and the very basis of his entire 

The fate of Kant is one of the most paradoxical phe- 
nomena in the history of European culture. Upon him 
fell the task of completing the work of Martin Luther 
purifying Christianity and leading it back to its original 


sources. Kant's dualism can be understood only in con- 
nection with the theological thought which was crystal- 
lized by the Protestant Reformation. His phenomenal 
and intelligible ego is, in the final analysis, the bibli- 
cal theology of Martin Luther. Man is a composite of 
matter and spirit, or in Kant's language of phenomenal- 
ity and intelligibility. Although he thus stood with 
both feet in ancient Hebraic metaphysics, he yet re- 
jected it as a source of religiosity. 

Although Kant spoke the language of the Old Testa- 
ment, two Jews, Baruch Spinoza and Solomon Maimon, 
overwhelmed and crushed him. Maimon pitilessly de- 
stroyed Kant's "thing in itself which he described as 
an irrational magnitude. In so doing he enabled Spino- 
za to overwhelm the whole of Kant. If Maimon is cor- 
rect in his stand, the abyss between Kant's two worlds 
remains unbridged, leaving only a dualistic or Jewish 
world-picture. Spinoza, the anti-Jew, overwhelmed 
Kant the Jew, whom the Teutons consider as being the 
greatest philosopher of their race. There is only one re- 
mote analogy to this paradoxical phenomenon in the 
history of the Western mind, St. Augustine, the founder 
of the Western church, who was converted from Mani- 
cheism to Christianity and fought Manichean dualism 
in order to save Jewish monotheism. Such ludicrous 
and ironical phenomena illustrate the paradoxical situa- 
tions in history. 

Kant's famous Categorical Imperative smacked of the 
Prussian military drill, and it was felt to be too prosaic 
and sober. Therefore, many of the so-called Kantians, 
particularly those with deep religious interests, turned 
from their master to acclaim Spinoza. Solomon Mai- 


mon, who destroyed the basis of Kant's metaphysics 
thereby, paved the way for a critical examination of his 

Professor Paulus of Jena University, himself a Kan- 
tian, became the first translator and editor of Spinoza's 
works in German. He thereby became instrumental in 
furthering the cause of Spinozism in Germany. Many 
other eminent Kantian theologians of the time, particu- 
larly the more learned, became active in spreading Spi- 
noza's gospel. So completely did they come under his 
spell that they considered it their duty not only to de- 
fend Spinoza against accusations of atheism but to rep- 
resent him as a true theist. 

Kant is Spinoza's only adversary in the realm of occi- 
dental culture. Constantin Bruner has aptly stated that 
everyone must be either a Spinozist or a Kantian. The 
modern intellectual world, however, is overwhelmingly 
Spinozistic. Kant created only a school of thought, but 
Spinoza gave birth to a new culture and religion. Kant 
was long forgotten in his own fatherland until he was 
revived by Hermann Cohen. Spinoza has always lived 
in the centers of modern culture. Although at first he 
was maligned, calumniated, and even damned, he came 
to be later blessed and admired. He was always a sub- 
ject of discussion in religious, philosophical, and scien- 
tific circles, because he dangled before man's eye the pic- 
ture of a world without contradictions or abuses. 

Kant has accomplished only a special task. He ex- 
amined and described the mechanism of the human 
mind rather than the mechanism of the world. He can 
be compared to Aristotle, as Spinoza can be likened to 
Plato. Kant is the very embodiment of idealism, while 
Spinoza is the representative of extreme naturalism. 


To Spinoza everything is nature. God, the world, and 
the attributes are all nature. The modi are the phe- 
nomena of nature, the spirits are thinking nature, and 
the bodies extended nature. The rational order of 
things is that of natural necessity. 

This naturalism was only a consequence of that mon- 
ism of una substantia^ the alpha and omega of Spinozism. 
But Immanuel Kant had no such preconceived idea, for 
his starting-point was the dogma of neither monism nor 
dualism. Not being a religionist, he was not concerned 
with satisfying the human mind, with finding an all- 
embracing answer to the multitudinous problems of life. 
He yearned for truth, and, therefore, began not with 
God but with critical investigation. Kant was interested 
in recognition, Spinoza in salvation. To Kant the phi- 
losopher is the legislator of human reason, while to Spi- 
noza he is the harbinger of beatitude. Although not an 
Aristotelian, he follows Aristotle in conceiving philos- 
ophy as being a doctrine of the divine, whose main end 
consists in discovering the first principle. Kant, how- 
ever, ignores this approach to the problem. His philos- 
ophy is not a discovery of first principles, but is the 
science of relationships. 

The very starting-point of Spinoza, the search and 
discovery of the cause of causes, is hateful to Kant, who 
states that scientists err when they follow this path. He 
presumes and presupposes nothing, not even the possi- 
bility of the oneness of nature. Transcendental philos- 
ophy to him is only the theory of recognition of the pos- 
sibility of nature itself. Spinoza, on the other hand, pre- 
sumes and presupposes everything God, nature, its 
phenomena, and their different relationships. He begins 
with the supreme cause, without knowing whether it is 


and what it is. He sets out rationalistically and dogmat- 
ically while Kant begins critically. Kant is complicated, 
abstruse, and often dark, while Spinoza is simple, plain, 
and full of light. Kant's philosophy can be accepted 
either entirely or partly, but Spinoza's philosophy can 
be accepted only entirely. There can be no left or right 
Spinozists as there are left and right Kantians or Hege- 

In spite of its mathematical form, Spinozism is, in the 
last analysis, an experience of man's soul, while Kantian- 
ism is the product of man's critical mind. The soul is 
often disturbed and subject to varying moods, while 
man's mind is more rigid. Feeling is common to all peo- 
ple, but intellectual meditations are the heritage of the 
few. We can thus understand Spinoza's influence upon 
the entire fabric of modern culture with the exception of 
the plastic arts and music, and Kant's influence upon 
philosophy alone. Spinoza created a new world-picture, 
Kant only a new school of philosophy. Kant definitely 
established the frontiers of the human mind, but Spino- 
za reconstructed a new world out of an old one. Every- 
one is interested in Spinoza, but only philosophers are 
concerned with Kant. 


By the end of the eighteenth century, these two world- 
pictures clashed. Both were the apotheosis of two differ- 
ent eras in European history, the era of idyllism, sym- 
bolizing the culture of the seventeenth and eighteenth 
century, and the new era of activism, the modern civili- 
zation of the nineteenth century. The one world was 
universalistic and the other individualistic in its out- 
look. The Middle Ages were borne by the spirit of uni- 
versalism one church, one humanity, one super-ruler 


while the last half of the eighteenth century was carried 
away by the spirit of individualism. The sudden rise of 
this spirit was indicative of the extinction of the old 

The appearance of a new Caesar and the machine age 
enhanced this new tendency. The crushing of Germany 
by Napoleon called forth a strong nationalistic move- 
ment in the Teutonic lands which came as a reaction 
against the universalism of the past. In addition, the 
appearance of the machine, replacing or extending the 
human hand, created new forms of economic life and 
laid the foundation for modern capitalism. This form of 
economic life presumed the entrepreneur, a new eco- 
nomic personality. The appearance of individualism con- 
tradicted Spinoza's universalism; and yet Kant's sub- 
jectivism could not remain the philosophical standard. 

This spirit of individualism gave rise to the Romantic 
school at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of 
the nineteenth centuries. One might think that this in- 
dividualistic school would spell ruin to universalistic 
Spinozism. Thus, Fichte, the philosophical patron saint 
of the Romantic movement, made the ego the source 
and center of all things. Yet, he was as overwhelmed by 
the spirit of Spinoza as were the cultural leaders of the 
preceding generations. There is but one explanation for 
this strange phenomenon. The Romantic school of 
thought, to the extent that it was philosophically orien- 
tated and inspired, considered its most noble task to be 
to create a synthesis of the subjective world of Kant and 
the objective world of Spinoza. Because of its aesthetic 
interests, it made individualism part of its world-picture 
but because of its metaphysical yearnings it was per- 
meated with Spinoza's universalism. 


This attempt at a synthesis found its most powerful 
expression in Fichte's philosophy. Already at the outset 
of his philosophical career, when he visualized an active 
world, he believed it to be identical with Spinoza's sub- 
stance, requiring nothing else for its existence. To 
Fichte, too, the highest goal of ethical aspirations and 
salvation is man's union with the eternal by the way of 
the spirit. He asserts that the idea of God is already 
presumed in all recognition and that everything ema- 
nates only from substance. To him God does not exist as 
a special substance and, therefore, he is neither personal 
nor self-conscious. However, unlike Spinoza, he defines 
God's being as beauty, science, and state, or Logos, 
Ethos, and Mythos. One could hardly expect that a 
philosopher, whose symbols were individualism and ac- 
tivism, should accept Spinoza's acosmism and resigna- 
tion. Despite his deep sympathy with Kant's ethicism 
he, nevertheless, does not tire of praising Spinoza as the 
discoverer of the absolute oneness, the una substantia. 

Fichte's main desire was to create a secure basis for 
ethical idealism by means of theoretical idealism. Yet 
he is a Salvationist rather than an ethicist. It is an irony 
of fate that the man who made it his mission to develop 
Kantian philosophy in Germany thereby strengthened 
Spinozism. Fichte, the individualist, who posits a pure 
metaphysical ego from which he deduces an empiric ego, 
wrestled with and succumbed to Spinoza, the universal- 

Another great philosophical figure of the German Ro- 
mantic school, Frederich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, 
made Spinozism one of the cornerstones of his system, 
which was a synthesis of the philosophies of Fichte and 
Spinoza. Schelling's comprehensive philosophy of na- 


ture became the basis for later philosophical specula- 
tions. His doctrine of the identity of object and subject, 
real and ideal, nature and mind in the absolute, was 
already suggested by Kant. However, his revival of the 
doctrine of the cosmos and the soul, and of the gradual 
evolution of inorganic into organic nature, gave real im- 
petus to his philosophy. Despite the fact that it is a 
mixture of Platonism, neo-Platonism, Brunoism, and 
Boehme mysticism, the absolute oneness of Spinoza is 
nevertheless its central motive. 

Schelling attempted to mediate between the philoso- 
phies of Plato and Spinoza. He understood Plato's 
ideas not as abstract terms or as physical existences, but 
as metaphysical beings. He attempted to reduce the 
dualism of God and matter, by reducing matter to 
naught, leaving only a spiritual monism. He believed 
that in this manner he brought about a synthesis of 
Spinozism and Platonism. 

Schelling, like Fichte, also attempted to reconcile 
Kant with Spinoza. At first he leaned toward Kant, 
but as he alienated himself from transcendental idealism 
he veered in the opposite direction. Schelling under- 
stood substance as substratum that is to say as a stabi- 
lized and fixed being which is corporeal and finite in 
itself. This corporeal substratum is only a projection of 
the imagination of the empirical ego. Thus, his sub- 
stance emanates from man's mind. It is readily appar- 
ent that at this stage of Schelling's development he is 
caught between Spinoza's objectivism and Kantian sub- 
jectivism. Later Schelling became even more Spinozis- 
tic. His final conclusion is natura naturans absoluta, 
or the absolute all, an impersonal God Spinozism. 
But this Spinozism is dissimilar to that of the original 


Spinoza. Schilling's cosmos, like that of Goethe, is not 
mechanistic but vitalistic. The realm of nature is full 
of ends and purposes. The world of forms in organic 
nature is animated by desire to realize an ideal, to at- 
tain higher forms of manifoldness, multitudinous, and 
variety. Even inorganic nature has a soul and is per- 
meated with the spirit of the ego. In every nook and 
corner of nature the world-soul is functioning. This is, 
of course, Brunoism rather than Spinozism and the full- 
est expression of the philosophy of identity. When this 
philosophy of the identity of subject and object of 
real and ideal of which Schelling was the center at- 
tained its full impetus in Germany, all its opponents 
argued that it was not original with its founders for 
Spinoza was its discoverer. 

While Schelling was wrestling with Plato, Spinoza, 
and Kant, his contemporary Hegel was struggling with 
Spinoza exclusively. In Hegel, Spinoza reached the 
height of his influence upon the German mind. Hegel 
was the most influential, although not the most original, 
German philosopher since the days of Kant. His system 
was more an absorption of other systems than an origi- 
nal creation. Therein lies the secret of his influence. He 
brought all the philosophical tendencies and moods of 
his time to a conclusion. With him the pantheism of his 
period attained its highest development and became 
the conscious and necessary connection of the mind and 
the world. Its former mysticism was replaced by a more 
logical conception. He conceived the divine power as an 
order of evolution having a teleological aspect. 

This remarkable reconstruction of pantheism can be 
understood from the activistic tendencies of the time. 
In that period of storm and stress man desired to in- 


crease his power and to display more energy. The old 
conception of the relationship of man to God, that He is 
the ruler and that man is the subject, was repudiated 
because man wished to be emancipated from all extra- 
mundane rule. Kant's doctrine of the autonomy of will 
was developed into a doctrine of the autonomy of man 
vis-a-vis God and the forces of nature. The theory of 
the evolution of the universe as an evolution of the 
mind, teleologically motivated, was an adequate world- 
picture for man who was destined to embark upon the 
new machine age, which required initiative and freedom. 
In addition, two other factors greatly contributed to 
this remarkable development. The men of that age 
were bored with the prevailing rationalism and mathe- 
matical mind of the preceding period. They actually 
developed an antipathy toward the mathematical sci- 
ences because they tended to stifle religion and poetic 
emotions. The pantheistic tendencies of the time, as 
expressed in the poetry of Goethe and Holderlin and in 
Schilling's conception of the ego, betrayed the yearning 
for the poetic and an urge for the fantastic. Their goal 
was to create an emotional rather than a rationalistic 
attitude to the infinite by stressing the beautiful. The 
infinite dawns more upon the artists than upon the sci- 
entist, for the beautiful is the vision of pneness in its 
manifoldness. Its philosophical formula is a pantheism 
of the immanence of divine oneness in the manifoldness 
of its phenomena. Not the objective world, not the 
phenomena of nature, but man's inner self must be the 
source of all true recognition. Philosophy should be 
reduced to man's inner experience. To the more artis- 
tically inclined men of that age, emotion was the source 
of man's wisdom and the anchor ground from which he 


looked at the cosmos; but to the more philosophically 
inclined it was logos. That which was all soul to Bruno 
became all logos to Hegel. 

Another contributing factor to this remarkable devel- 
opment from objectivism to subjectivism, from realism 
to idealism, was the sharp reaction against the French 
materialistic theories of the eighteenth century. Men 
like Lamettrie, Helvetius, Cabanis, and Baron von Hoi- 
bach, who attempted to reduce quality to quantity and 
mind to matter and to explain all phenomena of life ma- 
terialistically or atomistically, called forth a powerful 
idealist opposition. To the thinkers of Jena and Tue- 
bingen these materialistic explanations of the world 
seemed puerile, for they offered nothing to the fantasy. 
They considered materialism as a world-concept, an 
aberration of the human mind. All these occurrences and 
reactions, moods and sentiments, contributed to the 
rise of neo-subjectivism and found its most powerful 
expression in Hegel's panlogicism or logical pantheism. 
Hegel, like Maimon and Schelling, identified Spino- 
zism with acosmism but accepted Spinoza's monism. To 
him, too, Spinoza's substance was inactive, restful, with- 
out development of the possibility of inner creativeness. 
Together with his contemporaries, he missed in it the 
ends individuality and personality. Yet there is only 
one difference between the substance conception of 
Spinoza and of Hegel. The latter emphasizes teleological 
in addition to logical necessity which the former denies. 
Hegel supplemented Schelling's philosophy of nature 
by his philosophy of the mind, which must not be co- 
ordinated with or subordinated to but superordinated 
upon nature, so that it can be understood as a transi- 
tional point and agency of development of the mind. 


This conception of mind, however, must not be con- 
ceived as absolute objectivity, but as an objective force 
in which man is only participating. He thus creates a 
synthesis of Spinoza's universalism with his individual- 
ism. It is from this vantage point that his attitude to 
Spinoza must be understood. 

After Hegel's death both his adherents and "his op- 
ponents dissolved his philosophy into its different com- 
ponent parts. They recognized in it a reproduction of 
the philosophies of Heraclitus, Plato, Spinoza, and 
Schelling. Although they found the totality of the pic- 
ture to be his own, they found little in it that was truly 
original. Yet for a variety of psychological and po- 
litical reasons Hegel has become, next to Spinoza, the 
most potent force in Western culture. To the present 
day Hegelianism still rules in the cultural life of Europe 
and America. Oswald Spengler, the most influential 
German thinker of our day, is a right Hegelian, for he 
applies Hegel's triadic rhythm of thesis, antithesis, and 
synthesis to the historical process. 

Hegelianism, like Spinozism, has had its finger in 
every pie in politics, religion, literary criticism, and the 
sciences. Many of Hegel's contemporaries have been 
forgotten but the personality and philosophy of Hegel 
cannot be ignored. The intellectual processes of the 
nineteenth century can be understood only through 
Hegel, just as those of the last half of the eighteenth 
century can only be seen through a Spinozistic prism. 
His influence is so deep-rooted and his philosophy so 
dominating in so many spheres of spiritual endeavor 
that one is almost inclined to believe that Hegel, like his 
great master, Spinoza, is not a philosophical but a reli- 
gious figure. 


During his entire philosophical career, Hegel constant- 
ly wrestled with Spinoza and for a time was entirely in 
his clutches. It was while under this influence that 
Hegel said that in order to refute Spinoza one must 
first accept him. In his lectures on the history of philos- 
ophy he says, "That Spinoza is the main point in mod- 
ern philosophy, it is either Spinozism or no philosophy 
at all." He defended Spinoza against the reproach that 
his philosophy was atheistic and destructive of morality. 
In his later years, however, when he became more con- 
servative, he changed his attitude toward Spinoza. He 
said, "that the philosophy of the "Amsterdam hermit* 
was an antiquated point of view, that his method was 
'wooden,' that his proofs were formal tortures, that the 
attributes did not emanate from the substance and that 
the modi did not emanate from the attributes." But 
it was reserved for his old age to discover that Spinozism 
was philosophically objectionable because it did not 
tally with Christianity. 

In his later years Hegel attempted to stress the true 
Christian nature of his own philosophy. He suddenly 
discovered that Christianity affirmed the individual 
soul and gave it the possibility of redemption. But in 
Spinozism he missed the individual soul, the personal 
God, and true spirituality. Spinoza's substance became 
to him lifeless and static without spirit, because it con- 
tradicted the doctrine of the Trinity. Hegel found it 
rational that Spinoza died of consumption because he 
said that his substance consumes and swallows every- 

It is worthy of note that Hegel's disciples did not ac- 
cept their Master's later attitude toward Spinoza. They 
not only defended him against Hegel, but stressed the 


fact that Spinoza was not only not an atheist but was 
actually the incarnation of genuine religiosity. They re- 
garded Spinoza's substance as the substratum of reality, 
and even said that Spinoza is a synthesis of idealism and 
realism, pantheism and individualism, who represents 
the peak of European philosophical thought. 


Hegel's antipode in nineteenth-century German phi- 
losophy was Arthur Schopenhauer, the one being a pan- 
logicist and the other a pan-voluntarist. The arch-pessi- 
mist Schopenhauer, although he considered himself to 
be the heir of Kantian thought, nevertheless admitted 
that he was indebted to Spinoza. The relationship of 
his philosophy to that of Spinoza appeared to him like 
that of the New to the Old Testament. 

What the Old Testament specifically has in common with the 
New is the same God-Creator, and by analogy to my system as well 
as to that of Spinoza's, the world exists by its own power and 
through itself. However, Spinoza's substantia aeterna, the inner 
character of the world, which he entities Deus> is according to its 
character and value, the Jehovah, the God-Crea&tor, who applauds 
His own creation and finds that everything has succeeded excel- 
lently. Spinoza has only deprived Him of His personality. To him 
also, the world and everything in it, is excellent and as it should be. 
For this reason, man has nothing to do but to live and enjoy him- 
self. He should enjoy his life as long as it lasts exactly as Koheleth 
in IX, 7-10 suggests. In short, Spmozism is optimism pure and 

The alleged optimism of Spinoza could not find favor 
in the eyes of the pessimistic Schopenhauer. His pes- 
simism, anchored in the doctrine that will is the primacy 
of life, and that the intellect is subservient to the will, 
caused Schopenhauer to object to Spinoza's identifica- 
tion of will and intellect. But in spite of his occasional 


severe remarks about Spinoza and Spinozism, he admits 
that Bruno and Spinoza stand out conspicuously in the 
realm of thought and belong neither to their century nor 
to their Continent, which rewarded the one with death 
and the other with persecution. Their miserable exist- 
ence and fate in the Occident may be compared to that 
of a tropical plant in Europe. Schopenhauer's eagle eye 
beheld instinctively that the mystic Spinoza was an 
Eastern plant on Western soil, and he rightly remarked 
that Spinoza's as well as Bruno's true spiritual home- 
land was on the banks of the holy Ganges, where they 
would have lived a much admired life among kindred 

During his philosophical activities Schopenhauer's at- 
titude toward Spinoza vacillated from the deepest to the 
darkest anti-Semitism. Yet he was one of the few major 
philosophers of the nineteenth century who made a posi- 
tive contribution to the criticism of Spinoza's system, 
He was the first to offer a thorough analysis of Spinoza's 
geometric method and theory of attributes. Yet despite 
the divergencies between the basic doctrines of Spinoza 
and Schopenhauer they had several theories in common. 
Both denied free will, history, and man; both affirmed 
fatalism, universalism, and asceticism. Only their start- 
ing-points differed; but in their conclusions they are 
brethren of the same race. 

While Schopenhauer admitted that he was only partly 
influenced by Spinoza, several scholars of the succeeding 
generation recognized in the German arch-pessimist's 
heart-rending lamentations about the misery of life a 
full-fledged disciple of Spinoza. Dr. Martin Berendt 
and Julius Friedlander, in their interesting book, Spino- 
za s Theory of Knowledge in His Relation to Modern Science 


and Philosophy > stated that there exists a remarkable 
similarity between Schopenhauer and Spinoza. The lat- 
ter teachers that cupiditas, "desire/' is the main driving 
force in the character of every being, whereas Schopen- 
hauer says that the will is the actual essence of every 
creature. The difference between Schopenhauer and 
Spinoza is that the former uses the term "desire" instead 
of "will." Both Berendt and Friendlander insist that 
the basic metaphysical principle of Schopenhauer, the 
will, is to be found in Spinoza's saying, "Cupiditas es- 
sentia hominis est" "Desire is the essence of man." 

The heir and successor to Schopenhauer was Eduard 
von Hartmann. Although as a disciple of Leibnitz he 
was a severe critic of Spinoza, he yet constantly defend- 
ed Spinoza's monism and doctrine of the substance. 
Many passages of his main opus, The Philosophy of the 
Unconscious^ give the impression that Hartmann identi- 
fied himself with Spinoza. Although he criticized Spino- 
za's theory of attributes, he admitted that his own God 
conception was similar to that of Spinoza. Just as in 
Fichte, Kant and Spinoza met, so in Hartmann, 
Leibnitz and Spinoza appeared as peaceful associates. 

To the very end of the nineteenth and the beginning 
of the twentieth century Spinozism remained an impor- 
tant factor in Western philosophy. Herbert Spencer in 
England, Wundt and Lotze in Germany, Bergson and 
Renouvier in France, found many elements in Spinoza's 
philosophy to which they felt themselves attracted and 
by which they were greatly influenced. Spinozism as a 
rigid system dissolved itself into many component parts, 
and each part became an element in the systems of the 
modern philosophers. 

Kant and Hegel still represent a definite system of 


philosophy, but Spinozism today is no longer what it 
was a hundred years ago. It is either monism on the 
metaphysical side, moralism on the ethical side, sub- 
jective religiosity on the theological side, or mechanism 
on the scientific side. 

Spinozism in modern philosophical thought appears 
like a sun from which myriads of rays emanate, carrying 
light and warmth in every direction, and fructifying a 
variety of fields. Like all true religiosity and mysticism, 
it is more a potential than an actual force in man's life. 
Like the pantheism it teaches, it is everywhere. It is 
constructive and destructive. Such is the influence of 
Baruch Spinoza upon modern philosophical thought. 


For many centuries civilized man was accustomed to 
think in theological terms. Church and state were iden- 
tical and the church used the state for its own ends, 
wielding both spiritual and political power even in Prot- 
estant countries. The primacy of life was religion and 
man was taught to consider theology the source of all 
wisdom. Philosophy was the servant of theology and 
was valid only to the extent that the two agreed. Dis- 
agreement was heresy and was punishable by incarcera- 
tion, exile, or death. 

For many centuries the Bible was considered to be the 
sole source of all religiosity in the West. This was due 
not to a mere historical whim, but to the fact that the 
Bible has been the greatest religious document which 
man has wrested from his own genius. It impressed it- 
self upon the mind of the European man because it is a 
book filled with poetic symbols and dazzling, captivat- 
ing, and shocking reality. It has fascinated man's mind 


because it is more a book of man than a book of God. 
In its pages is told the story of the eternal cycle in man's 
life. It describes his destinies and vicissitudes and is the 
history not only of his past but also of his future. It is 
eschatology rather than archaeology. The individual- 
ism of the Jew expressed itself in the Bible in great biog- 
raphy. Is it any wonder that the individualistic Western 
Aryan was necessarily fascinated by that document? 

Although there is little real inner connection between 
the Old and the New Testaments, in one respect at least 
the latter is both a continuation of and an improvement 
upon the Old Testament. It makes a man the central 
figure of world's history. His position is so outspoken 
and so powerful that anthropocentric humanity could 
not but be dazzled by this vision. 

The appearance of Spinoza, however, fundamentally 
changes the entire religious picture in the West. He 
emancipated philosophy from theology and taught man 
to think in metaphysical and universalistic rather than 
in theological and individualistic terms. He distin- 
guished between the functions of recognition and piety. 
The aim of philosophy he says is truth, the recognition 
of things in their connection with one another and with 
God. The aim of theology is piety obedience to God's 
laws. Hence, there is but little difference between the 
Old and the New Testaments, for both, like all theology, 
have a content apart from recognition. They teach cer- 
tain doctrines, such as a personal God, His attributes, 
His relationship to the world, His moral ends, the aim of 
creation, etc. As practical piety, even the theological 
content of the Bible is acceptable, but as theoretical 
philosophy or as objective truth it must be rejected. 
Religion must have certain articles of creed which must 


be accepted, including the belief in God, His justice and 
pity, His omnipresence and omniscience, and the belief 
that all religiosity can rest only on justice and brotherly 
love. Only those who accept these articles of creed at- 
tain salvation. 

The intellectual truth of the articles of creed is subor- 
dinate to the function of religiosity and its attending 
ethical influences. An article of creed serves its purpose 
even though it may not be compatible with intellectual 
truth. This, Spinoza argues, becomes evident upon a 
careful reading of the Scriptures, which condemn not 
ignorance but disobedience. The highest form of religi- 
osity is not that which is not compatible with intellectu- 
ality, but that which is productive of religious and ethical 
results, such as good deeds, justice, and brotherly love. 

Spinoza thus makes a sharp distinction between relig- 
iosity and intellectual truth, and between religiosity and 
the practical mode of living. He is conscious that in so 
doing he is at one with the spirit of the Bible. Then he 
sets out to prove that the heroes of the Bible were actu- 
ated primarily by religious rather than by intellectual 
motives. They felt that it was not at all feasible to 
make the intellect the guide for the masses. Conse- 
quently they expressed themselves in images and prov- 
erbs, the language of the emotions not of the intellect, 
of fantasy and not of reason. The prophets were not 
necessarily men of superior knowledge, but were of pure 
heart and vivid imagination and, therefore, incapable of 
pure recognition. Apart from their deep religiosity and 
their knowledge of matters spiritual, they were not su- 
perior to their time and environment. They shared its 
ignorance and superstitions, and could never free them- 
selves from its anthropomorphisms. 


Spinoza, unlike many theologians, taught that the 
anthropomorphic expressions in the Bible are to be tak- 
en literally, for, being a book for the masses and not for 
philosophers, it speaks the language of the people. The 
authors of the Bible spoke in terms of their time and 
environment. 25 

Spinoza, like all representatives of higher criticism, de- 
nied the unity of thought in ancient Israel- He says that 
the assertion that all the prophets developed the same 
doctrine and thought is erroneous, for they expressed 
merely their individual temperaments. The pessimists 
among them saw the future only in gloomy colors the 
optimists in light ones. Those of good taste and good 
style wrote elegantly, while the hillmen and peasants 
stuttered the patois of the soil. Princes spoke the lan- 
guage of the court; soldiers, of the military camp and 
shepherds of the flock. The prophets had their preju- 
dices and their biases, for they were only children of 
their time and products of their respective localities and 
professions. Therefore, one need not respect the teach- 
ings of the prophets. 

It is evident that while outwardly Spinoza appreciated 
the religious worth of the Bible, factually he belittled it. 
A century before, Bruno, too, had evolved a pantheistic 
world-concept and had attacked the Bible. The latter, 
however, was of little consequence because it was merely 

35 If these assertions are true, then the ancient Jewish demos in Palestine consist- 
ed of poets, rhapsodists, visionaries, metaphysicists, statesmen, rhetoricians, etc. 
To say that the prophets of ancient Israel were merely men of the masses, speaking 
their language, is as wise as to say that Shakespeare, Goethe, or Victor Hugo spoke 
the language of the English, German, or French masses. This assertion of Spinoza 
is as true as his other assertion that the prophets were not necessarily men of supe- 
rior knowledge. Men who spoke in terms of eternity as did the ancient prophets of 
Israel must have been men of superior culture and knowledge. Impartial scholars 
admit that Spinoza was greatly prejudiced against the Bible and particularly against 
the Old Testament. 


an outburst of the emotions and failed to convince either 
the masses or the scholars. In addition, the thinkers of 
the Italian Renaissance were not as vitally concerned 
with the Bible as were the men of the Reformation of 
the north. In the south the Bible was only an incidental 
source of religiosity and was orientated by neo-Plato- 
nism and the traditions of classical antiquity. In the 
Teutonic countries, however, the Reformation devel- 
oped a new mentality, with the Bible as the main source 
of its religious inspiration. Spinoza was the first north- 
erner who dared to make a direct attack upon the Bible. 
It was not only, however, an outburst of passion, but 
also the first scholarly attempt at an analysis of the 
historiography and theology of the Bible. He was the 
founder of modern biblical higher criticism in Europe. 
He impressed the north with his apparently impartial 
analysis and with his objective approach to the investi- 
gation of the historical, metaphysical, legal, and political 
content of the Bible. His influence on the religious de- 
velopment of succeeding generations was as powerful as 
was his influence on the philosophical development of 
modern Europe. Just as contemporary philosophy is 
either Kantian or Spinozistic, so is present-day religion 
either Spinozism or dogmatic theology. 

Spinoza's religious teachings called forth storms ot 
protest thoughout the Protestant countries. In the first 
fifty years after his death, every pulpiteer invented new 
invectives against him and decried him as a crass athe- 
ist. Even noted theologians of the day like Deyling, 
Mosheim, and many others vied with clerical dema- 
gogues in heaping insults upon the philosophical lens- 
grinder. The fight against Spinoza became so bitter that 
it assumed the character of a moral pogrom. One venom- 


ous writer said of him that he was hired by Satan to 
spread atheism in the world and that his theory of reli- 
gion is a horrible doctrine consisting of miserable errors 
and "unsalted Jewish philosophy." In the last third of 
the seventeenth century the theologians in the Protes- 
tant countries were exercised by one favorite theme 
Spinoza's atheism. This assault by the entire Protes- 
tant church has no analogy in the annals of religious 
controversy in Europe. In the first half of the eight- 
eenth century the German philosopher, Wolff, was the 
first thinker of his time who while rejecting Spinoza's 
theories dared to offer a defense of his personality. This 
impersonal attitude gave rise to a more kindly attitude 
toward Spinoza. 

The intensity of the anti-Spinozistic movement in the 
north testifies to the shock which theology suffered as a 
result of Spinoza's new doctrine. Nevertheless, the true 
influence of Spinoza upon modern religiosity began to 
manifest itself with the appearance of Gotthold Ephra- 
im Lessing. 

The German enlightenment movement, begun by 
Leibnitz and continued by Wolff, reached its height in 
Lessing. Though he was its most colorful and greatest 
representative, he at the same time overcame it. In 
the great theological controversies of the time the 
contradictions and idiosyncrasies of the Bible were 
stressed. The heterodox rejected it as a source of reli- 
gious inspiration while the ultra-orthodox clung to its let- 
ter and spirit. Lessing, who was captivated by Spinoza, 
appeared as a mediator between the two contending 
parties. While repelled by the religious shallowness of 
the "enlighteners" and disgusted with the point of view 
of the ultra-orthodox, he introduced a religious outlook 


which was conducive to religiosity and at the same time 
assigned orthodoxy to its proper position. 

The main theological problem that presented itself to 
him was whether or not the veracity of religion depend- 
ed upon the veracity of the teachings of the Bible. He 
pointed out that the Bible and Christianity are not iden- 
tical and that historical truth cannot always be intellec- 
tual truth. Christianity and similar religions antedate 
the Bible to the extent that they contain eternal truth. 
Religion was not created by one man or one group or 
one generation, but was the product of a long historical 
development. It is based upon ancient traditions, which 
were transmitted from father to son for many centuries 
before Christ. The old Christian church made the arti- 
cle of belief and not the Bible the highest authority m 
all religious matters. Just as the Bible is not the only 
source of religious truth, so is it not the pure source of 
general truth. It is a religious book, but not religion 
per se, for many sections in the Bible have no bearing 
upon religion. In addition, many of the figures of the 
Old Testament are anything but sources of religious or 
ethical inspiration. 

Lessing, like most of his German contemporaries, was 
intensely interested in the problem of immortality, 
which he considered to be a problem of both religion and 
philosophy. Since the Old Testament ignored this ques- 
tion, it meant little to him from a religious point of view. 
Together with Spinoza, Lessing holds that the Old 
Testament is lacking in a full concept of the oneness of 
God, or of an adequate God-recognition. He says that 
neither priest nor layman draws his religiosity from the 
Scriptures, but finds it only in his own soul. What is 
true of the individual Christian is all the more true of 


Christendom. In this manner Lessing, inspired by Spi- 
noza's religiosity, fought and finally triumphed over the 
dogmatism which was rampant in the Germany of his 
day. Lessing was the first to apply the doctrine of grad- 
ual evolution to religion. To him the history of religion 
became the history of the education and training of the 
human race. The positive religions were the necessary 
evolutionary stages of the human mind, thus precluding 
the validity of any orthodox doctrine of revelation. He 
distinguished between the religion of Christ and the 
Christian religion. The former teaches ethical conduct, 
and the more amiable and refined a man's character may 
be, the more does he practice the religion of Christ. The 
Christian religion, on the other hand, considers Jesus a 
God and an object of divine worship. While the religion 
of Christ is clearly defined in the gospels, the Christian 
religion is always opportunistic and cannot be clearly 
evaluated ethically. 

This religious theory, which is the conviction of the 
educated classes of Germany to the present day, did not 
originate with Lessing, but was suggested to him by 

After Lessing the next important philosopher to influ- 
ence religious development in Germany was Kant. Al- 
though his theory of religiosity is primarily philosophy 
of religion, it is reminiscent of that of his predecessor. 
To him, too, religion is primarily religiosity and practi- 
cal piety as exemplified by Jesus. Just as Lessing dis- 
tinguished between the religion of Christ and the Chris- 
tian religion, so did Kant distinguish between statutory 
or church religion and genuine religiosity. Statutory re- 
ligion, in so far as it is guided by true religiosity, can 
have a claim on truth. The various observances, rituals, 


and ceremonies he considers as a garment in which true 
religiosity is enveloped but which, however, can out- 
grow its wearers. While ceremonies and rituals are sub- 
ject to change, true religiosity is constant and is a per- 
manent element in the flux of religious phenomena. 

To Kant religious history is a record of the everlasting 
struggle between religious externalities, such as forms 
of worship, rituals, and ceremonies on the one hand and 
moral religious faith on the other. Together with Spi- 
noza he affirms that ancient Judaism is an example of 
organized religion, but goes much farther when he de- 
scribes it as a system of legality in contradistinction to 
what he calls "morality." Ancient Hebraic monothe- 
ism, he says, was without value because it was political 
in character. It was barely distinguishable from an eco- 
nomically managed polytheism and, like all other posi- 
tive religions, it was superstition rather than religion. 
The true history of religiosity begins only with Chris- 
tianity. Jesus by his life and death was the first great 
religious teacher who freed the masses from religious 
legality and implanted in them religious morality. 

While in all other aspects of the philosophy of religion 
Kant pursues his own path, in respect to the problem of 
biblical religiosity he is a follower of Spinoza. Spinoza's 
negative attitude to the Old Testament finds its expla- 
nation in his excommunication from the synagogue. 
Kant, however, who was reared by pious Protestant 
parents and steeped in biblical traditions from his earli- 
est youth, must have observed the universalistic tend- 
encies in the teachings of the ancient prophets. Yet so 
overwhelmed was he by Spinoza, that he, too, adopted a 
hostile attitude toward the Old Testament. 26 

* It may be noted in passing that while Kant was anti-Hebraic he was not anti- 
Semitic When the theological faculty of the University of Komgsberg was looking 


The basic philosophic doctrines of Kant lay dormant 
after his death for a period of eighty years. However, 
his attitude toward the Old Testament, far from being 
forgotten, was adopted by the foremost religious think- 
ers of the nineteenth century, especially by Schelling, 
Fichte, and Hegel, the men of the Romantic school. To 
the present day this tendency is still prevalent in liberal 
Protestant circles in Europe. 

The religion of the north is rationalistic while that of 
the south is emotional. It is therefore not surprising 
that the north finally succumbed to Spinoza's religious 
appeal for his religiosity is doubly rationalistic by virtue 
of his Hebraic background and his mathematical ap- 

In the first decades of the nineteenth century when the 
forces of rationalistic Protestantism had spent them- 
selves in Europe, there grew up a Romantic school which 
repudiated analytical reason as a source of knowledge 
and relapsed into emotionalism. Yet Spinoza, the ra- 
tionalist, projected his personality even upon this 
school. The first prominent religious figure of this 
movement was Friedrich Schleiermacher. 

Schleiermacher, like Goethe, did not stress positive 
religion or religious observances. To him it was not 
something speculative or abstract but was pragmatic in 
character. In beholding all finality, sub specie aeternita- 
tis, he recognized a world free from passion and error. 
His religiosity is merely a definite attitude to the uni- 
verse. Yet he discovered salvation and beatitude in 
Spinoza's intellectual love of God. 

for a scholar to occupy the chair of the Old Testament theology, Kant intervened 
and offered a Jewish scholar who in his opinion was fitted to hold the position be- 
cause of his thorough knowledge of Hebrew. 


Schleiermacher injected emotion and fantasy into dry 
northern Protestantism and eliminated from it rational- 
ism, morality, and metaphysics the handmaidens of 
all other church religions. Religion to him was not iden- 
tical with knowledge. It was not concerned with the 
relationship of the finite to the infinite, or with the rec- 
ognition of the essence of the first or last causes in their 
relationship to the final cause. Its primary purpose was 
to visualize the universe in its every aspect and in all its 
manifoldness. Thereby man becomes overwhelmed by 
a sense of humility and meekness. Religion thus be- 
comes the immediate consciousness of being, the recog- 
nition that all finality is part of the infinite and that all 
timeliness is part of eternity. To seek, to find, and to 
recognize eternity in everything that moves and lives, 
in all action and suffering, is religion. Hence it is only a 
state of mind bordering on passivity and mystical vision. 
The universe and its immediate recognition is the ob- 
ject of all true religiosity. In the realm of nature the 
divine oneness reveals itself not only in ponderous mat- 
ter or in beautiful forms, but in the eternal laws and 
^changeability of matter. He thus conceived religion 
as a pious vision from which meekness, love, gratitude, 
pity, and repentance must be deduced. These phe- 
nomena are not ethical but religious in character. Con- 
sequently religion cannot be the handmaiden of morality 
or of ethics, but only the comforter and companion of 
man. It cannot be circumscribed or expressed in terms 
of laws or norms, for it is not reason but emotion. By 
identifying religion with emotion, Schleiermacher ex- 
pressed the religious views of the Romantic school in 
Schleiermacher's conception of religion isolated it 


from intellectual cultural processes. If religion is only 
emotion, it cannot share in reason and in any of its 
manifestations. Besides, emotion is blind and there is 
no sharp line of demarcation between emotion and the 
various manifestations of passion. Unless emotion is 
controlled and checked by reason it may degenerate 
into wild passion and become the cause of social catas- 
trophes and disasters such as the Spanish Inquisition of 
the south and the witchcraft superstition of the north. 
While Schleiermacher calls upon Spinoza as his crown 
witness, his theory of subjective religiosity is not Spi- 
nozistic. Spinoza attempted to formulate an intellectual 
rather than an emotional conception of the universe. He 
speaks of the intellectual and not of the emotional love 
of God. Although Schleiermacher began with Spinoza, 
he concluded with Schleiermacher. 

The subjective religiosity of the German Romantic 
movement gained ascendancy in the religious life of 
England during the nineteenth century. There biblicism 
had been more deeply rooted than in Germany. In fact, 
seventeenth-century England was so permeated with 
the biblical spirit that every Englishman considered it 
a pious deed even to revive Old Testament names. In 
the nineteenth century, however, it veered as far from 
biblical religiosity as did eighteenth-century France 
from Pascal's mysticism. 

It is no mere accident that Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
and Thomas Carlyle, the two foremost representatives 
of the new religious spirit in England, 37 were orientated 
in modern German philosophy and poetry. Like Schlei- 
ermacher and his circle, Coleridge, too, rejected all ra- 
tionalistic proofs of religion, for his primary concern was 

37 See bibliographical notes. 


religiosity. He says that it is peculiar to Christianity 
that first it appeals to the emotions and then to the 
intellect. After it has clarified the heart it clarifies the 
mind. He yearned for the religion of Christ but not for 
the Christian church. In all his religious writings Cole- 
ridge shows his dependence upon Schleiermacher. 

Not only indirectly but directly did Spinoza affect 
Coleridge. In his Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit he 
rejects all the dogmatic theories of revelation in the 
Holy Scripture; yet, being an Englishman, he remained 
deeply convinced of the religious and ethical value of the 
Bible, which he attempted to rationalize. He even ad- 
mitted that the Bible as a whole is a steady source of 
faith. While Coleridge's contemporaries would not ac- 
cept his attitude to the Bible, later biblical criticism in 
England was nevertheless influenced by him. 

Thomas Carlyle expressed a similar attitude toward 
religion, although he did not think in theological terms. 
As the foremost Goethe student and interpreter of Ger- 
man culture in the England of his time, he could not but 
be influenced by Goethe's religious views, which he set 
forth in his Polemics and essays. He directed his attacks 
not only against the conservative Protestant theolo- 
gians, but also against materialists, skeptics, and athe- 
ists. In his argument against the materialism of Hoi- 
bach and Helvetius, he concluded that it is a vain effort 
to prove the existence of God or to rationalize about 
Him. The very approach of the materialists to this 
problem is dubious. Religion is a matter of the heart 
and of the emotions, originating not in man's intellect, 
but in his intuition. Together with Goethe and Spinoza, 
Carlyle rejected the conception of a Deity who pushes 
and moves the world from without, and said that God 


can be found only in the human heart. While He can- 
not be said to be in any given place, He is, nevertheless, 
in one's very breath and in one's acting and thinking. 
Whoever fails to recognize God's omnipresence cannot 
explain any phenomenon of life. 

Although God is the central problem of religion, man's 
activities must be included in its program. Man's aim 
on earth is not selfish happiness, be it even in the form 
of seeking after salvation. Spiritual life begins only with 
self-denial. Although Carlyle encroaches upon the thresh- 
old of asceticism, he was not an ascetic. To him self-de- 
nial originated in man's meekness and resignation, which 
was born when he compared himself with the forces of 
nature. The highest ideal in life is amor Dei. Yet Car- 
lyle was too steeped in history not to understand that 
true religiosity could become the common heritage only 
of the select few. The masses can acquire an approach 
to religiosity only through externalities such as religious 
ceremonies, observances, and rituals, which fill a defi- 
nite function in religious life. Religion is not something 
imposed upon man from without but is innate. All mor- 
tals are equipped with sufficient spirituality to have 
some intuitive conception of the divine in life and to 
obey it in silence and piety. Thus Carlyle's attitude 
toward religion was much more sober than that of the 
Romantic school of Germany. 

Of the later English theologians, Francis Newman and 
Matthew Arnold mirrored the influence of Spinozism. 
Newman, a truly pious spirit, in his Faith and Soul par- 
tially adopted Spinoza's attitude toward the Bible. His 
critical approach and his doctrine of subjective religios- 
ity, which were both inspired by Spinoza, made him one 
of the outstanding religious figures of his day. 


His contemporary, Matthew Arnold, in his Literature 
and Dogma and God and the Bible> substituted ethical 
idealism for supernatural religion. Although theologi- 
cally inclined, he could not reconcile his own deep re- 
ligiosity with Christianity. An empirically orientated 
age, he said, will not accept biblical miracles and dog- 
mas, or the existence of a supermundane God. The God 
of religion is not an engineer but a poetic symbol, who 
constitutes ethical religiosity. 28 

Spinoza's pious personality made such a deep impres- 
sion upon Matthew Arnold that he came to identify 
ethics with religion. In this identification Arnold was 
mistaken, for religion and ethics have two different func- 
tions to perform in life. Religion is a regulated relation- 
ship of man to the forces of eternity, while ethics is a 
regulated relationship of man to his fellow-man. Hence, 
ethics cannot replace religion. Yet it is remarkable to 
observe that except for Schleiermacher every thinker 
who came under the spell of Spinoza's personal piety 
overlooked this fundamental difference. Most of the dis- 
ciples of Spinoza have assumed either a supercritical or 
a hostile attitude toward the Old Testament, which is 

88 Matthew Arnold introduces his religious creed with the sentence, "The eternal 
power and not ourselves makes for righteousness " But what is this "eternal power" 
and what is this "not ourselves" ? The latter he often described as natural law or as 
a world-order. This is a mere re-expression of Spinozism. 

To eliminate all doubt as to the source of Matthew Arnold's inspiration, it is nec- 
essary to quote his opinion of Spinoza: "A philosopher who professed that knowl- 
edge was its own reward, a devotee who professed that love of God was its own re- 
ward, this philosopher and this devotee believed in what he said. Spinoza led a life 
perhaps the most spotless to be found in the lives of philosophers; he lived simply, 
studious, even-tempered, kind, declining honors, declining riches, declining notori- 
ety. Therefore, he has been in a certain sphere edifying, and has inspired in many 
powerful minds an interested admiration such as no other philosopher has inspired 
since Plato. In my father's house are many mansions, only, to reach any one of 
these mansions, there are needed the wings of a genuine sacred transport, of an im- 
mortal longing. These wings Spinoza had, and because he had them his own lan- 
guage about himself, about his aspirations and course are true, his foot is in the vent 
vita, his eye on the beatific vision." 


often so bitter as to almost give the appearance of Jew- 
hatred. 29 

Church religion is still a powerful factor in present- 
day England because the high church is conservative, 
has a sense of organization, and is property-hungry. 
Nevertheless, even here Spinozism has made heavy in- 
roads. The most conservative English divines have be- 
come reconciled to higher criticism despite the fact that 
they are horrified by some of its consequences. In fact, 
for the past century England has become a hotbed of 
higher criticism. 

Religious thought played a more important part in 
England during the nineteenth century than in any 
other European country. The Established Church has 
zealously sought to exclude the influx of foreign heresies 
in English theological life. Yet Spinoza, by coloring the 
theological thought of Coleridge, Carlyle, Arnold, and 
Newman, has influenced English theological thought to 
an extent second only to that of Germany. 

In France, Spinoza's influence upon the cultural proc- 
ess has been much less effective, not only because of the 
towering figure of Descartes, but also because of the ef- 
fect of eighteenth-century materialism upon nineteenth- 
century France* To the present day Descartes is the 
philosophical patron saint of France. Nevertheless, 
Spinoza's influence can be seen even here. Victor Cous- 
in, Ernest Renan, Hippolyte Taine, and many other 
great Frenchmen of the nineteenth century came under 
his sway. Thus Victor Cousin, while rejecting Spinoza's 
separation of religion and philosophy, was enamored 
with his piety and spirituality. Like Voltaire before 
him he defended Spinoza against the accusation of athe- 

*9 Gratz, the great Jewish historian, actually accuses not only Schleiermacher 
but even Goethe with anti-Semitic bias. 


ism, saying that "Spinoza was so absorbed by the idea 
of God that he lost sight of man." This militant defense 
of Spinoza in France destroyed the fable of Spinoza's 

While Cousin was defending Spinoza, although he was 
an opponent, Ernest Renan championed him because 
he was a friend. His approach to Spinoza was historical 
and literary rather than philosophical. Thundering 
against Feurbach's atheism, he revealed himself as a 
staunch defender of pantheism. While religions, he said, 
are products of certain historical developments, religios- 
ity is an expression of the human soul and is a great 
educational factor in human life. Deity is to be found 
in everyday life rather than in the abstract formulas of 
the philosophers. Because Renan, too, was a subjective 
religionist, he admitted that man's capacity for religion 
was variable. 

The defense of Spinoza by Cousin and Renan con- 
tributed little to his popularity. Only with the coming 
of Hippolyte Taine did Spinoza's influence in France be- 
come more widespread. Taine, the theoretician of natu- 
ralism in French literature in his History of English Lit- 
erature, was one of the first to apply the theory of en- 
vironment to aesthetics. He admitted, however, that 
the theory itself he borrowed from Spinoza. Man's 
realm, he said, is not a separate empire but is only a part 
of nature; and the spirit of man is regulated only by the 
spirit of nature. Hence, man's accomplishments can be 
understood only in connection with the nature with 
which he is encompassed. From this principle he de- 
scribes the spiritual manifestations of a race which he 
understands only as an outgrowth of its environment. 
Taine believed that his theories of race and milieu rested 


upon Spinozistic ground. In this assumption he was 
mistaken. Just as Spinoza's single modus is not deduci- 
ble from his substance, so is Taine's theory of race not 
deducible from Spinozism. Race implies personality, 
which is contrary to the spirit of Spinoza's universalism. 

In addition to his philosophical and literary influences, 
Spinoza also gave direction to French theological 
thought. He broke down the opposition of the Catholic 
church to higher criticism, as can be seen by the works 
of Havet, Reville, Morris, and Loisy. Thanks to Spi- 
noza's influence, biblical criticism made heavy inroads 
even in Catholic France. 

The rise of Spinoza as a religious force means, first, the 
breaking-down of theological dogma; second, the as- 
cendancy of subjective religiosity; third, the breaking- 
down of scholastic theology; fourth, the separation of 
theology and philosophy; fifth, higher biblical criticism; 
and, last, religious tolerance as a product of religious 


The poet is concerned with beauty, the philosopher 
with truth. The poet thinks in similes, symbols, and 
images. He is inspired by the objective world which he 
reproduces in his own imagery. He is given to intuitive 
and not to analytical or discursive thinking. The phi- 
losopher deals with formulas, terms, notions, and ideas 
which are manifestations of the intellectual, analytical 
mind. Because of the differences in motive, interest, 
and expression of the two, the one rarely invaded the 
province of the other. The coming of Spinoza smoothed 
the barriers which separated the two realms. Many of 
the great poetic creations of the last one hundred and 
fifty years, permeated with the spirit of En Kai Pan, 


are reminiscent of the Upanishads of old, giving ex- 
pression not only to the emotion but also to the philo- 
sophical pensiveness of the poet, and to his world-picture. 

While Baruch Spinoza has shaped and molded man's 
philosophical mind for the last one hundred and fifty 
years, he has actually determined the course of the poet- 
ic mind during that period. The greatest poets of Eng- 
land, France, and Germany, among them Goethe, 
Shelley, and Hugo, have painted their pictures in Spi- 
nozistic colors. Spinoza's influence upon modern poetry 
testifies to the religious character of his philosophy for 
the poet and religionist both draw from the same source, 
the emotions. 

Spinoza has revealed the totality of nature to the 
modern poet and has accomplished for poetry what Co- 
pernicus and Kepler achieved for philosophy. Before 
the days of Spinoza the poets of nature contented them- 
selves with poetic descriptions of some of the natural 
phenomena and with the expression of an artificial en- 
thusiasm about God's creation. However, when Spi- 
nozism overwhelmed the hearts of poets a new lyricism 
was born. Guided and inspired by his Deus sive natura> 
the poet felt himself at one with nature and his soul be- 
came permeated with a genuine longing and an inde- 
scribable love for it. 

While Spinozistic philosophy necessitated a dead God, 
Spinozistic poetry created a living nature, abounding in 
fascinating colors and captivating sounds. Goethe's 
poetry is a striking illustration of this transformation. 
Although Spinoza's nature is still and petrified, Goethe's 
nature vibrates with life. Spinoza understands nature 
in its mechanical motion, Goethe visualizes it in its liv- 
ing movements. He hears its voice, he sees its myriad 


faces, and he loves it with a thousand hearts. It be- 
comes to him one great poem which he alone can recite. 
Facing a sovereign living and pulsating nature the 
Spinozistic poet was inspired to philosophical thought 
and to meditation upon the great problems which have 
stirred man's heart and mind, the problems of God and 
the world and man's final goal. Spinoza's nature, poeti- 
cally translated, transformed the poet into a philoso- 
pher. The mystery of yesterday became the problem of 
today. What is man's destiny, his position in the uni- 
verse, and his goal ? None of the great poets of modern 
times has given such powerful expression to these stir- 
ring problems as has Goethe in his cycle of poems, God 
and the World. In the first poem of this cycle entitled 
"Procemion," Goethe exclaims: 

In His blest name, who was His own creation, 

Who from all time makes making his vocation 

The name of Him who makes our faith so bright, 

Love, confidence, activity, and might; 

In that One's name, who, named though oft He be, 

Unknown is ever in Reality; 

As far as ear can reach, or eyesight dim, 

Thou findest but the known resembling Him; 

How high so'er thy fiery spirit hovers, 

Its simile and type it straight discovers; 

Onward thou'rt drawn, with feelings light and gay, 

Where'er thou goest, smiling is the way; 

No more thou num'rest, reckonest no time, 

Each step is infinite, each step sublime. 

What God would outwardly alone control, 
And on his finger whirl the mighty Whole? 
He loves the inner world to move, to view 
Nature in Him, Himself in Nature too, 
So that what in Him works, and is, and lives, 
The measure of His strength, His spirit gives. 
Within us all a universe doth dwell; 


And hence each people's usage laudable. 
That ev'ry one the Best that meets his eyes 
As God, year e'en his God, doth recognize: 
To Him both earth and heaven surrenders he, 
Fears Him, and loves Him too, if that may be. 

He even views scientific investigations and discoveries 
in the light of Deus sive natura. Silently but systemati- 
cally nature perpetually revitalizes itself. What we con- 
ceive as birth and death is, in the final analysis, only an 
eternal cycle of appearance and disappearance. This is 
the basic thought of his famous poem, "The Metamor- 
phosis of Plants." 

Spinoza's conception of indestructible existence is viv- 
idly described in the poem "Legacy," in which Goethe 
affirms that being is eternal and that there is no destruc- 
tion of life, for the eternal laws of nature protect life's 
treasures. This, Goethe thinks, must be a source of in- 
spiration to all. There is no past or future, only an eter- 
nal living present. Nor is there any within or without, 
for what is within is without. Nature has no shell or 
kernel, for the shell is the kernel. 

Und so sag* ich zum letzen Male; 
Natur hat weder Kern noch Schale; 
Du prufe dich nur allermeist, 
Ob du Kern oder Schale seist. 

In this poem Goethe reveals that he drew not only from 
Spinoza but also from the latter's spiritual ancestry. 

Spinoza's hold upon the German poetic mind was so 
intense that it was not even interrupted by the turn 
from universalism to individualism, caused by the Na- 
poleonic wars. Just as Spinoza captivated Goethe, the 
foremost representative of German classicism, so he also 
fascinated all the outstanding poets of the German Ro- 


mantic school. Of them none gave such powerful ex- 
pression to his teachings as did Friedrich Ruckert, one 
of the pillars of German lyrical poetry of the first half 
of the nineteenth century. He was not only familiar 
with ancient Hindu thought, but also understood the 
inner connection between Spinozism and ancient Hindu 
mysticism. So overwhelmed was he by Spinozism that 
he even argued that it was compatible with free will, 
with man's moral responsibility, and with dynamic ethics. 
His poetry is a powerful reflex of Spinozism in all of its 
phases, as can be seen from the following poem: 

Gott ist die Geistersonn* und die Natur sein Glanz, 
Zieh deine Selbheit aus, und an die Gottlichkeit ? 
Die Selbheit ist so eng, die Gottlichkeit so weit. 
Sei selbst! Er selber will, dass selbst du sollest sein, 
Dass du erkennest selbst, er sei dem Selbst allein. 

Nicht fertig ist die Welt, sie ist im ew'gen Werden, 

Und ihre Freiheit kann die deine nicht gefahrden. 

Mit totem Raderwerk greift sie in dich nicht ein: 

Du bist ein Lebenstneb in ihr, gross oder klein. 

Sie strebt nach ihrem Ziel mit aller Geister Rmgen, 

Und nur, wenn auch dein Geist ihr hilft, wird sie's errmgen. 

Gott ist von keinem Raum, von keiner Zeit umzirkt, 
Denn Gott ist da und dann, wo er und wann er wirkt, 
Und Gott wirkt iiberall, und Gott wirkt immerfort; 
Immer ist seine Zeit, und iiberall sein Ort. 

Der Geist des Menschen fiihlt sich vollig zweierlei; 
Abhangig ganz und gar, und unabhangig frei. 
Abhangig, sofern er Gott im Auge halt, 
Und unabhangig, wo er vor sich hat die Welt. 

Ich bin von Gott gewusst, und bin dadurch allein! 
Mein Selbstbewusstsein ist, von Gott gewusst zu sein, 
Im Gottbewusstsein geht nicht mein Bewusstsein aus; 
Eingeht es wie ein Konig in seines Vaters Haus. 


In a similar vein most of the major German poets of 
the nineteenth century were Spinozistically orientated. 
The genius of Heine, Hoelderlin, Hebbel, Lenau, Im- 
merman, Schefer, and Stefan George was guided by 
Spinoza. Thus Immerman insisted that Spinozism is 
more than a philosophical doctrine, for it is life's great- 
est experience. "God pulsated from me every moment 
in both directions of the universe/' and "God is every- 
where, even where early things and eternal things are 
in conflict." Finally he exclaims: 

Sieh' macht'ger Gott in der Natur 
Sieh droben die Natur in Gott! 

Nicholaus Lenau, restless and wandering poet of pes- 
simism, and one of Germany's greatest lyrical poets of 
the nineteenth century, prescribed Spinozism as a cure 
for trembling souls. Yet Lenau cannot be called a full- 
fledged Spinozist for he was too whimsical to adhere to 
one doctrine. Although he wrestled with him and 
sought to overcome him, he still could never free him- 
self from En Kai Pan to which he gave expression in the 
following verse : 

Ich bin mitt Gott festinniglich 
Verbunden und seit immerdar, 
Mit ihm derselbe ganz und gar. 

In England, Spinoza's influence on poetry is limited 
chiefly to the Romantic school. John Locke, who de- 
termined the course of English philosophical develop- 
ment by disposing of the problem of substance which 
had engaged the attention of all the major philosophers 
of the seventeenth century, thereby eliminated Spino- 
zism from English philosophical thought of the succeed- 
ing generations. English poetry, like all other great 


poetry of modern times, had a definite philosophical 
background. But since Spinozism was not at home in 
English intellectual life, it was also alien to English 
poetry. Only when the great Romantic poets broke 
with tradition and turned either to mysticism, as did 
Wordsworth, or to a cosmic consideration of life, as 
did Byron and Shelley, did Spinoza become a force in 
English cultural life. The lone exception was John 
Toland, Spinoza's first important English critic, who, 
strangely enough, was also the first author of a Spinozis- 
tic hymn. 30 

Of all the Romantics, Shelley was the greatest inter- 
preter of Spinozism to the Anglo-Saxon world. He de- 
voted his poetic genius to spreading the gospel of Spino- 
za's monism. From his early youth he wrestled with the 
great religious and philosophical problems of his time, 
and it was only in Spinozism that he found peace of 
mind. Like Goethe, he could not visualize a world 
moved by an outside force. Seeking both truth and 
beauty, the entire religious fabric appeared to him as 
being ugly and puerile, and his resentment at organized 
religion was outspoken. His youthful idealism could 
not make peace with the established religious order. 
Truth, to him, was a much higher ideal than safety and 
convention. In his struggle with religious and philo- 
sophical conventions he found a haven in Spinozism. 

"The world is one and one is the world " 

"This, m itself, one world is God, eternal, immeasurable, 
Without beginning and without end." 

"In Him we are, we live, and weave." 

"From Him everything originates, to Him everything returns: 
He is the ground and the goal of all things." 

"Let us sing a song in praise of the world." 


Traces of Spinozistic influence can already be detected 
in his early works. In "Zastrossi," written at the age of 
eighteen, he asks, "Do you believe that the soul decays 
with the body, or if you do not, when this perishable 
body mingles with its parent earth, where goes the soul 
which now actuates its movements?" Similarly he asks 
in "St. Irvyne," "Will not this nature, will not the mat- 
ter of which it is composed, exist for all eternity?" 
Furthermore, he says, "I believe nature to be self- 
sufficient and excelling. I should suppose, therefore, 
that there could be nothing beyond nature." The ex- 
pression "nature is self-sufficient" indicates his indebt- 
edness to Spinoza. 

The growth of Spinoza's spell upon Shelley can be 
traced from year to year. As early as 1811 he says in a 
letter to a friend: 

Before we deny or believe the existence of anything, it is neces- 
sary that we should have a tolerably clear idea of what it is. The 
word God has been and will continue to be the source of number- 
less errors, until it is erased from the nomenclature of philosophy. 
Does it not imply: the soul of the universe, the intelligent and 
necessarily beneficent, actuating principle? This it is impossible 
not to believe in. I may not be able to adduce proofs, but I think 
that the leaf of a tree, the meanest insect, on which we trample, are 
in themselves arguments more conclusive than any which can be 
advanced, that some vast intellect animates infinity. If we dis- 
believe this, the strongest argument in support of the existence of 
a future state instantly becomes annihilated. All are but part of 
a stupendous whole, something more than poetry. It has ever been 
my favorite theory for the immortal soul never to be able to die. 
.... Love, love, infinite in extent, eternal in duration, yet per- 
fectible, should be the reward, but can we suppose that this reward 
will arise spontaneously, as a necessary appendage to our nature, or 
that nature itself could be without a cause? 

The words "the soul of the universe" and "the intelli- 
gent actuating principles" already show an intimate 
familiarity with Spinoza. 


Like Byron, Shelley was greatly influenced by the 
prevailing scientific tendencies of the time. He was in- 
terested in natural philosophy and cosmology. At an 
early age he already attempted to combine the cosmo- 
logical principles of the scientist with the deductive 
philosophy of Spinoza. The immanence of God was to 
him not merely a metaphysical conviction but a scien- 
tific certainty. In his notes to "Queen Mab" he devel- 
ops the Spinozistic theory that all becoming and all move- 
ments of the universe follow eternal and immutable laws. 

To Shelley, Spinoza was not only a poetic inspiration, 
but also an intellectual guide. He accepted Spinoza's 
world-picture as a philosophical doctrine. But Shelley 
also had cosmological interests which Spinoza could not 
satisfy. Thus, he missed in Spinoza the connecting link 
between analytical cosmology and deductive meta- 
physics. Therefore, he proceeded to create this link by 
a theory of atoms, reminiscent of Descartes. 

All of Shelley's writings, both prose and poetry, drip 
with Spinozism. But while he attempted to penetrate 
the secrets of nature, he was neither a naturalist nor an 
atheist. Even though Shelley wrote "The Necessity of 
Atheism," he was not an atheist. Thus in a conversa- 
tion with Trelawny shortly before his death he said, 
"It [atheism] is a word of abuse to stop discussion, a 
painted devil to frighten the foolish, a threat to intimi- 
date the wise and good. I used it to express my abhor- 
rence of superstition. I took up the word, as a knight 
takes up a gauntlet, in defiance of injustice." 

Just as in his religious, so also in his ethical interests 
did he follow Spinoza's trail. In a letter to Lord Ellen- 
borough he says: 

Moral qualities are such as only a human being can possess. 
To attribute them to the Spirit of the Universe or to suppose that 


it is capable of altering them, is to degrade God into Man and to 
annex to this incomprehensible qualities incompatible with any 
possible definition of nature. To attribute to God the moral quali- 
ties of man is to suppose him susceptible of passions, which, arising 
out of corporeal organization, it is plain that a pure spirit cannot 
possess. But even suppose with the vulgar, that God is a venerable 
old man, seated on a throne of clouds, his breast the theatre of 
various passions, analogous to those of humanity, His will, change- 
able and uncertain as that of an earthly king still goodness and 
justice are qualities seldom nominally denied Him. 

This is a reverberation of Spinoza's Theological Political 

In almost all his poetical works, notably in "Queen 
Mab," "Mont Blanc," "Laon and Cynthia/' "Prome- 
theus Unbound," and "Adonias and Hellas," Spinozis- 
tic pantheism breaks forth in him with irresistible force- 
fulness. Spinoza's substance he often calls spirit or 
spirit of nature. In "Laon and Cynthia" he exclaims: 

O Spirit, vast and deep as Night and Heaven! 
Mother and soul of all to which is given 
The light of life, the loveliness of being, 
Nature, or God or Love. 

In his hymn "To Intellectual Beauty" Shelley says 
about the supreme cause: 

The awful shadow of some unseen Power 
Floats though unseen amongst us. 

In "Queen Mab" he says: 

Spirit of Nature, thou! 

Life of interminable multitudes; 

Soul of these mighty spheres 

Whose changeless paths thro' Heaven's 

deep silence lie: 
Soul of that smallest being, 
The dwelling of whose life 
Is one faint April sungleam. 


But nothing characterizes his pantheistic sentiments as 
much as the following passage from "Queen Mab": 

Yet not the lightest leaf 

That quivers to the passing breeze 

Is less instinct with thee: 

Yet not the meanest worm 

That lurks in graves and fattens on the dead 

Less shares thy eternal breath. 

In heavy poetic images he announces the truth of the 
infinity of substance in the following terms: 

Let Heaven and Earth, let man's revolving race, 
His ceaseless generations tell their tale, 
Let every part depending on the chain 
That links it to the whole, point to the hand 
That grasps its terms; let every seed that falls 
In silent eloquence unfold its store 
Of argument; infinity within, 
Infinity without, belie creation: 
The extermmable spirit it contains 
Is Nature's only God. 

The image of substance as a calm sea is used by Spi- 
noza in his Ethics (III, prop, lix, schol. 182). Shelley 
paraphrases it in his "Laon and Cynthia" as follows: 

My mind became the book through which I grew 
Wise in all human wisdom, and its cave, 

Which like a mine I rifled through and through, 
To me the keeping of its secrets gave 
One mind, the type of all, the moveless wave 

Whose calm reflects all moving things that are, 
Necessity, and love, and life; the grave. 

Equally in the spirit of Spinoza, he says in "Laon and 

Unlike the God of human error, Thou 
Requirest no prayer nor praises; the caprice 
Of man's weak will belongs no more to Thee 
Than do the changeful passions of his breast 
To Thy unvarying harmony: the slave, 


Whose horrible lusts spread misery o'er the world, 

And the good man, who lifts, with virtuous pride, 

His being, in the sight of happiness, 

That springs from his own works the poison tree, 

Beneath whose shade all life is withered up, 

And the fair oak, whose leafy dome affords 

A temple where the view of happy love 

Are registered, are equal in thy sight: 

No love, no hate Thou cherishest: .... 

.... all that the wide world contains 
Are but Thy passive instruments, and Thou 
Regardst them all with an impartial eye, 
Whose joy or pain Thy nature cannot feel, 
Because Thou hast not human sense, 
Because Thou art not human mind. 

Shelley transcribed almost all of Spinoza's metaphysi- 
cal thoughts into poetic images. What Spinoza under- 
stood Shelley visualized. He was the poetic high priest 
in the temple of Spinozism. 

If Shelley discovered the universe through mystical 
vision, Byron, his contemporary and friend, detected it 
through his observations of nature. He was driven into 
the arms of pantheism not from an inner religious urge 
but from "scientific" convictions. The pantheistic mo- 
tives with which his poetry is permeated were conceived 
in scientific observations. In several of his letters he ad- 
mits that his "Cain" was inspired by the discoveries of 
Cuvier. His interests in astronomy were supreme. His 
astrophysical interests imposed pantheism upon him 
from without. Awed by the star-bespangled skies, con- 
veying the message of eternity, captivated by the ma- 
jestic grandeur of the rhythmic movements of the celes- 
tial bodies, he succumbed to the consciousness of the 
oneness and the totality of the fabric of nature. He was 
nature-minded, for he felt himself to be at one with it. 


This feeling manifested itself in his poems in which he 
applied astronomic-poetic terms to historical figures. 

His burning interest in the laws governing the cosmos 
caused him to break with Christianity. To fill the gap 
he sought intellectual comfort and spiritual consolation 
in those philosophical and religious doctrines which best 
fitted his world-picture. This solace he found in the 
doctrines of Spinoza with which he familiarized himself 
at an early age. In a letter to Hodgson dated Sep- 
tember 3, 1811, he already confessed that he would 
rather be a Spinozist than a Christian. Because he, 
too, begins with nature and not with man, he is at one 
with Spinoza, who said that it is ridiculous to make 
man the goal and crown of creation or the meas- 
ure of all things. To him God is impersonal and with- 
out positive attributes other than infinity and eternity. 
He, too, characterizes God as "the cause of causes," as 
a state or a condition rather than as a conscious being. 

While the spirit of Spinoza is clearly visible in many of 
Byron's poems, particularly in a "Prayer to Nature," it 
must be admitted that his conception of Spinozism was 
not as well rounded as that of Shelley or as much a 
part of his personality. To Shelley, Spinozism was as 
refreshing and as necessary as a drink of water to the 
exhausted wanderer in the desert. To Byron, it was 
only a philosophical commentary to his scientific text. 
En Kai Pan he discovered in nature, not in his own 
breast. His joy in Spinoza's unity of Man, Nature, and 
God was caused not by an inner light but by outer 
scientific observations and studies. 

While Byron was vitally concerned with scientific 
studies, he was, strangely enough, not a scientist. He 
never enjoyed the advantages of an organized training 


in any of the major sciences. His concern with astro- 
physical and cosmological problems sprang primarily 
from his poetic interests. His poetic imagery kindles in 
the great cosmic phenomena. Unlike some poets, he was 
not satisfied with the specific phases of nature but he 
yearned to embrace it in its totality. With two piercing 
eyes he attempted to look not only at nature but also 
through it. It was here that his scientific interests kin- 
dled and developed. 

Together with Shelley, he believed the atom to be the 
source of life. However, it does not produce life but 
rather life is being produced in it. Who is the producer? 
In answering this problem he vacillated between Spino- 
zism and theism. God produced the world, but He is an 
impersonal being. Yet in "Cain" he says that God 
created not the universe, but rather life in the universe. 
As a Spinozist he could not possibly assume the idea of a 
personal creator and instead speaks of "leaping into 

While Byron's conception of the origin of organic life 
is only demi-Spinozistic, his theory of mechanical mo- 
tion is orthodox Spinozism. The universe is eternal 
being, and in it purely mechanical motion is the funda- 
mental and operating principle. Determinism reigns su- 
preme and the eternal cycle is the order of life. 

Byron and Shelley represent two distinct types of 
mystical consciousness. Shelley is the symbol of intel- 
lectual mysticism, which projects itself upon nature, 
and Byron is the apotheosis of mysticism of nature, 
which projects itself upon the mind. That both found 
in Spinoza a common anchor ground testifies to the 
magic power which the lonely Jew of Amsterdam exer- 
cised upon the great poetic minds of modern times. 


To Goethe and Shelley, Spinozism was both a fact and 
an inner conviction. To Byron and to Victor Hugo, his 
heir in European literature, it was a problem. Like 
Byron, Hugo, too, was overwhelmed with the phenom- 
ena of nature, and often vacillated between theism and 
pantheism. However, he grappled with Spinoza more 
than did any other outstanding poet of the nineteenth 
century. Unlike Shelley and Byron, Hugo did not break 
entirely with religious tradition, for he could not free 
himself from the idea of a personal God. But, yet, he 
was a pantheist and a theist and constantly fluctuated 
between these two conflicting motives. While he iden- 
tified God with the world, this pantheistic God retained 
his personality. His final conclusion was that God's 
personality is the ego of the infinite world. This is but a 
restatement of time-honored theism. 

Hugo's vacillation between Spinozism and theism 
caused many of his critics, especially Lanson, the cele- 
brated historian of modern French literature, to consid- 
er him to be intellectually a valley. The French mind 
is addicted to clarity, often at the expense of depth, and 
because there was no philosophical clarity in Hugo's 
mind his critics doubted his intelligence. A synthesis of 
Spinozistic pantheism and religious theism is not possi- 
ble, and he who desires to reconcile the two is both in- 
consistent and a mystic. Victor Hugo was blessed with 
both qualities. However, mystics have the privilege of 
being inconsistent, as was so well expressed by Pascal 
when he said that the human heart has its reason which 
reason cannot understand. 31 

31 It is this mysticism which drove Victor Hugo into the arms of medieval 
Kabbala and caused him to befriend Alexandra Weill, an Alsacian Jew, who came 
to Paris in 1836 to teach him Kabbala. The Weill episode in Hugo's life throws a 
glaring light on the mystical inclination of the great poet. Weill taught Hugo the 
identity of God and man and of God and the world. 


This mystic pantheism Hugo expressed in his poem: 

Rien n'existe que lui, le Flamboiement profond 

Et les ames, les grams de lumi&re, les mythes, 

Les moi mysteneux, atomes sans limites, 

Qui vont vers le grand moi, leur centre et leur aimant, 

Points touchant au z6nith par leur rayonnement. 

La matifere n'est pas, et 1'ftme seule existe. 

Rising from pantheistic mysticism with all its incon- 
sistencies, contradictions, and idiosyncrasies, Hugo 
slowly conceived of a purer pantheism reminiscent of 
Goethe and of Spinoza. His primary concern was with 
God and nature and with man and his soul. In his Con- 
templations (VI, x) Hugo attained Goethean heights in 
painting a picture of the manifoldness of nature as a 

L'Stre, eteignant dans Tombre et Textase ses fifcvres 

Ouvrant ses flancs, ses seins, ses yeus, ses cceurs pars, 

Dans ses pores profonds revolt des toutes parts 

La pn6tration de la sfcve sacr6e. 

La grande paix d'en haut vient comme une mare. 

Le brin d'herbe palpite aux fentes du pave; 

Et Time a chaud. On sent que le nid est couve. 

L'infim semble plein d'un frisson de feuilles, 

On croit etre k cette heure ou la terre 6veill6e 

Entend le bruit que fait Touverture du jour, 

L'honzon semble un r6ve 6blouissant ou nage 

L*6caille de la mer, la plume du nuage, 

Car Tocean est hydre et le nuage oiseau. 

Une lueur, rayon vague, part du berceau 

Qu'une femme balance au seuil d'une chaumi&re, 

Dore les champs, les fleurs, Tonde et devient lumi&re 

En touchant un tombeau qui dort pr^s du clocher. 

Le jour plonge au plus noir du gouffre et va chercher 

L'ombre, et la baise au front sous Teau sombre et 'hagarde. 

Tout est doux, calme, heureux, apaise; Dieu regarde. 


Believing that God is beyond and hence inaccessible 
and incomprehensible, we have no right to speak of 
God's attributes or to ascribe to Him certain properties 
or qualities because God is unknowable and unrecogniz- 
able. "Even the attempt to praise Him in human words 
is already blasphemy." 

In his God-conception Victor Hugo is guided not so 
much by Spinoza as by Spinoza's spiritual ancestors, the 
ancient Hindus. In many of his philosophical poems 
Victor Hugo attains the height of dazzling metaphysical 
realism comparable only to the Upanishads of old. Un- 
like Goethe, to whom living nature is a source of inex- 
haustible optimism and joy, Hugo discovers in the same 
nature the sources of evil and gloom, 

C'est vraiment une chose amere de songer 

Qu'en ce monde ou 1'espnt n'est qu'un morne Stranger, 

Ou la volupte rit, jeune, et si d6crpite! 

Ou dans les lits profonds 1'aile d'en has palpi te, 

Quand, panic, dans un nimbe ou bien dans un Eclair, 

On tend sa bouche ardente aux coupes de la chair, 

A 1'heure ou Ton s'emvre aux Ifcvres d'une femme 

De ce qu'on croit Tamour, de ce qu'on prend pour I'&me, 

Sang du cceur, vins des sens acres et d&icieux, 

On fait rougir la-haut quelques passants des cieux!" 

Contemplations, VI, xl 

This feeling of pessimism is strengthened by the 
thought that man himself, not being apart from but a 
part of nature, carries in himself all the cosmic elements, 
and is a source of both good and evil at the same time. 

Qui, mon malheur irreparable, 

C'est de pendre aux deux 616ments, 

C'est d'avoir en moi, miserable, 
De la fange et des firmaments! 


H61as! hlas ! c'est d'etre un homme: 

C'est de songer que j'6tais beau, 
D'ignorer comment je me nomme, 

D'etre un ciel et d'etre un tombeau 1 

Cest d'etre un forcat qui promene 

Son vil labeur sous le ciel bleu; 
Cest de porter la hotte humame 

Ou j'avais vos ailes, mon Dieu! 

C'est de trainer de la matiere, 
C'est d'etre plem, moi, fils du jour, 

De la terre du cimetiere, 

Meme quandje m'6crie: Amour! 

His metaphysical pessimism is much closer to that of 
Spinoza than that of Goethe and his German contem- 
poraries. Hugo's logic is unimpeachable. If man is only a 
part of nature, governed by the same immutable laws and 
only driven by blind passions, his realm must be that of 
cruelty and terribleness. This thought he expresses 
most particularly in "La 16gende de siecle." He refers 
to the gods as being only matter, permeated with evil. 
Hugo is no longer satisfied with Spinoza but harks back 
to ancient India. Yet, since Victor Hugo was a west- 
erner, he could not be satisfied with the identification of 
nature and man, and man and evil. In his great alle- 
gory, "The End of Satan," he describes the processes of 
man's moral ascendancy and purification. 

Les mondes, qu'aujord'hui le mal habite et creuse, 
Echangeront leur joi k travers 1 'ombre heureuse 

Et Tespace silencieux; 
Nul tre, Sme ou soleil, ne sera solitaire; 
L'avenir, c'est Thymen des hommes sur la terre 

Et des 6toiles dans les cieux. 
Les globes se noueront par des nceuds invisibles; 
Us s'enverront Tamour comme la fl&che aux cibles; 

Tout sera vie, hymne et reveil; 


Et comme des oiseaux vont d'une branche i Tautre, 
Le Verbe immense ira, myst6neux ap&tre, 
D'un soleil i 1'autre soleil. 

Hugo makes the ego of the world, which he calls God, 
serve as a source of man's moral purification and ethical 
evolution. This Deus is no longer coequal with that of 
Spinoza, but is a universal self-conscious spirit with an 
idea of its own, Spinoza's doctrine that God has an 
idea of His own contradicts his entire God-concept, but 
in Victor Hugo it supplements it. The contradiction in 
Spinoza's pantheism is sharply accentuated by Victor 
Hugo's philosophy of identity. God is not dead but 
alive. He is not anthropomorphic, but a self-conscious 
spirit and as such the hope of humanity. 

Victor Hugo was not the only great French poet of the 
nineteenth century to come under the spell of Spinoza, 
for Alfred de Musset, Lamartine, Maupassant, Rim- 
baud, and many others were seduced by the great philo- 
sophical dream of the lens-grinder of Amsterdam. Al- 
though each gave some expression to Spinozism in his 
writings, Victor Hugo was most completely absorbed by 
Spinozistic thought. 

To the present day Spinoza is still a vital force in 
literature. All varieties of poetry lyrical, dramatic, 
and epic are permeated with his spirit. Modern lyri- 
cal poetry, experiencing the totality of nature, speaks 
his language. Modern drama in which man's life is re- 
created as the whim of fate, chained to eternal laws from 
which he can never free himself, expresses his world- 
picture. Although modern drama is biographical and 
dynamic, it yet clings to that fatalism and determinism 
which is so characteristic of Spinoza. While his influ- 
ence upon lyrical poetry, which is concerned with living 


nature, is elevating, his hold upon the drama, which 
deals with man, is depressing. To the lyrical poet Spi- 
noza revealed nature but to the modern dramatist he 
crucified man. 


Spinoza, the mystic who denied the world, man, and 
empiric knowledge, influenced modern science more pro- 
foundly than did any other philosopher of modern times 
except Bacon. Nineteenth-century science, mechanisti- 
cally orientated, was entirely dominated by Spinozism. 
Modern cosmology, although at variance with the mech- 
anistic world-picture, is also orientated in Spinoza's spirit. 
Albert Einstein, the foremost cosmologist of modern 
times, has repeatedly affirmed his faith in the God of 
Spinoza. Reichenbach, Planck, and many other physi- 
cists of our day, although they may not entirely share 
Einstein's Spinozism leanings, have, nevertheless, been 
greatly influenced by Spinoza's world-picture. His de- 
terminism and his una substantia have shaped the cos- 
mological conceptions of modern science. 

But not so much in cosmology as in biology and 
psychology did Spinoza prove to be a potent force. As 
early as the end of the seventeenth century Friedrich 
Wilhelm Stoch, one of the foremost physiologists of his 
time, attempted to apply Spinoza's una substantia to 
physiology. He asserted that man represents not a 
duality of body and soul but a oneness. He anticipated 
eighteenth-century materialism by his bold assertion 
that mind is only the brain in operation, and that the 
soul, which is part of the mind, is something concrete 
and material. Although Stoch misinterpreted Spino- 
zism, his views continued to prevail in science for almost 
a century and a half. 


Eighteenth-century science, notably in France, was 
guided by Baconism, Yet the French materialism of 
that time was largely motivated by Spinoza's deter- 
minism. Although men like Holbach and Delamettrie 
rejected Spinoza's metaphysics, they accepted his cos- 
mology. His determinism helped to produce a material- 
istic world-picture, but his monism shaped the des- 
tinies of science long after materialism as a theory of 
science was overcome. Just as in philosophy Spinozism 
affected the development of rationalism and mysticism, 
so in science did he shape the development of mecha- 
nism and vitalism. The vitalist Miller and the mecha- 
nist Haeckel considered themselves to be true Spinoz- 

Johannes Miller held Spinozism in such high esteem 
that he concluded his great work Physiology with a 
translation of a portion of Spinoza's Ethics. His doc- 
trine of the specific energy of the senses, according to 
which every sense nerve reacts upon every stimulus in a 
given manner, is a necessary consequence of the con- 
ception of the oneness of the physiological fabric. 

After Miller's star set, that of Ernst Haeckel, the fore- 
most Darwinian of modern times, rose. During his en- 
tire intellectual career he engaged in numerous contro- 
versies. But his quarrel with theologians and Kantian 
philosophers overshadowed all his other disputes. His 
controversy with Kant, whom he brilliantly misunder- 
stood, was caused by his passionate orthodox Spinozism, 
of which he saw only the deterministic end. Modern 
biology, in so far as it is dominated by Haeckel, is 
thoroughly Spinozistic. 

It is a curious paradox that Spinoza, who denied man, 
nevertheless exercised a profound influence upon the 


science of man. Fechner, Wundt, and Freud, three of 
its greatest representatives of modern times, testify to 
his remarkable hold upon psychology. Fechner, one of 
the foremost philosophers and psychologists of the nine- 
teenth century, is best known to the intellectual world 
for his "Fechner law/* which says that the sensation 
varies in the ratio of the logarithm of impression. This 
law is an application of Spinoza's doctrine of the two 
attributes of the one substance to modern psychology. 
Fechner assumed a parallelogram of the forces of body 
and soul which are two aspects of the same oneness. 
So overwhelmed was he by Spinozism that he, too, waged 
a lifelong war against Kantianism. 

The second great psychologist of the nineteenth cen- 
tury was Wilhelm Wundt, the founder of physiological 
psychology. He was as deeply steeped in Spinozism as 
was his master Fechner. Not only did Wundt trans- 
form Spinoza's theory of the affections into a doctrine 
of religious psychology, deducing the religious myth 
from feeling, but he also presented Spinoza as the first 
philosopher who created a metaphysical ethics without 
an admixture of theology. But although Wundt was 
guided by Spinoza in his purely scientific studies, he 
rejected him as a metaphysicist and as a theologian. 
He expressed his wrath at Spinoza's identification of 
substance, God, and nature, which he considered to be 
rank atheism and blasphemy. Wundt was the only 
great scientist of modern times who was guided by Spi- 
noza but yet did not accept him fully. 

The third great representative of the science of man 
in modern times is Sigmund Freud, the founder of psy- 
choanalysis. He applied the mechanisms of Spinoza's 
pantheism to the operation of the human mind. Just as 
Spinoza's nature obeys certain immutable laws so does 


Freud's reconstructed human mind follow its own un- 
changeable order. His conception of mind is as intangi- 
ble as Spinoza's conception of substance. Both are only 
imaginary magnitudes. If Spinozism is macro-panthe- 
ism, Freudianism is micro-pantheism. 

Although Spinozism survived in the biological and 
psychological sciences because of its mechanism and 
monism, it was destroyed as a theory of physical science 
by Heidenheim in Germany, Dirack in France, and 
Bridgeman in the United States. Heidenheim was the 
first to point out the gaps in the law of causation. He 
demonstrated that this law is not infallible in astron- 
omy, from which he properly concluded it is not a 
logical principle. Since Heidenheim's principle has not 
been refuted, Spinoza's theory of causation and deter- 
minism are dogmas of the past. 

Just as Heidenheim destroyed Spinoza's theory of 
causation, so did Ernst Mach annihilate the theory of 
substance. It is not substance, he said, but the con- 
tinued happening which is the essence of reality. Not 
statics but dynamics is the essence of all things. More- 
over, everything in life must be reduced to a variety of 
elementary processes, which have a common kindling 
point. Avenarius, the founder of empirical criticism, ar- 
rived at the same conclusion independently of Mach. 
Both rejected Spinoza's substance, but still could not 
free themselves from his monism. 

While at the moment Spinoza's influence in science 
has been eclipsed in part by the rejection of causation 
as a logical principle, it would be too bold to assume 
that his influence has been permanently eliminated from 
science. As long as Spinoza's world-picture will con- 
tinue to dazzle humanity so long will it continue to in- 
fluence science. 



Spinoza's vast influence on the development of the sci- 
ences is the more remarkable since he was never engaged 
in scientific labor as were Descartes, Leibnitz, and Kant. 
He was a philosopher only. Kant, on the other hand, was 
as much scientist as philosopher. He is, in fact, highly 
rated as a scientist to the present day. Some of the fore- 
most scientists of the nineteenth century as Helmholtz, 
for instance, thought highly of Kant as a scientist. A 
man like W. Hastie, in his highly learned treatise on 
Kanfs Cosmogony dares the assertion that "all the sci- 
ence of our age may still gather new strength from his 
(Kant's) bold thought and fruitful suggestion." He goes 
on to say that "Kant was specially endowed with the 
peculiar gift of the scientific mind." A similar view is 
held by von Kirchman on Kant's scientific gifts and ac- 
complishments. Not only was Kant familiar with all 
the scientific doctrines and theories of his time but he 
was actively engaged in many branches of science, no- 
tably physics and astrophysics. Especially his Allge- 
meine Naturgeschickte und Theorie des Himmels y ac- 
quired for him a great position in the history of science. 
We still speak of the Kant-La Place theory. But still 
Kant's influence on the development of the sciences was 
nil, and Edmund Koenig in his work, Kant und die 
Naturwissenscheft (p. 66), complains bitterly that "the 
greatest and the most universal German thinker had not 
exercised any influence on the sciences at all." The ex- 
planation offered by Koenig that the rise of the ro- 
mantic school with its negative attitude to the analytical 
scientific mind had prevented Kant from exercising an 
influence on the sciences is puerile; for the romantic 


school did not retard the development of the sciences in 
Europe. However, while the scientific labors of Kant 
have not affected the march of scientific events in the 
least as was pointed out by Eric Adikes, 32 the non-scien- 
tific Spinoza actually has shaped the scientific process 
in Europe in the course of the last one hundred and fifty 
years because of the overwhelming grandeur of his world- 
picture. Kant, with all his scientific endeavors and 
achievements, was primarily interested in men and hence 
his influence is felt in the domain of ethics, epistemology, 
economics, and politics. Spinoza, who was disinterested 
in man, but highly interested in the whole of things, 
which he identified with God, was privileged to influence 
the natural sciences. This testifies to Spinoza's strength, 
but not to the philosophical wisdom and depths of the 
great scientists who in most instances are either merely 
great technicians or mystics. 

& Kant alls Naturforscher, Berlin, 1924, 2 vols. 


A, OF white man's culture can be divided into 
two categories, two types, one which is born of 
the ear and the other of the eye. Every culture 
is either musical, abstract, and algebraic, or it is spatial, 
concrete, and geometric. 

Semitic culture is that of the ear, while Aryan culture 
is that of the eye. All myth, like all plastic arts, origi- 
nates in vision. Hence Semitic culture is without a 
mythology, without a pantheon, and without a plastic 
art. The greatest Hebraic exclamation begins with 
Shma or "hear," which, by the way, also means "under- 
standing," "perception." Aryan culture, on the other 
hand, is overwhelmed with myth, populated with gods 
and goddesses, and saturated with plastic art. 

For every time the Old Testament mentions vision it 
mentions audibility ten times. The ancient Jews and 
the ancient Arabs could only hear; they could see noth- 
ing. In the desert, from whence they hailed, there is 
nothing to be seen except sand wastes, baked by the 
burning sun. The desert offers nothing to the eye. 

Because of this undeveloped vision, the Jews have not 
developed a plastic art. It has been said of Professor 
Max Lieberman, president of the German Academy of 
Plastic Arts and the greatest German impressionistic 
painter of our day, that he paints with his ear, not with 
his eye; with his reason and not with his emotions. The 
same is true of many other Jews who dabbled in the 
plastic arts. A Jewish artist usually has a thesis in ad- 



dition to a subject. First he rationalizes what he sees 
and then he paints. Even if it could be proved docu- 
mentarily that El Greco, who painted with his eye, was 
a Jew, it would only show that the exception proves the 
correctness of the rule. Hebrew has a number of syn- 
onyms for vision, but all of these terms do not mean vi- 
sion in Goethe's meaning of the term Schauen, but "per- 
ception," "understanding," and "foresight." Modern 
Jewry has produced a dozen first-rate musicians, but 
not many first-rate painters or sculptors. 

Whatever the Jew has wrested from his creative mind 
in the course of thousands of years abstract, artless re- 
ligion; ethics; jurisprudence; metaphysics; poetry is 
the creation of the ear and not of the eye. There is noth- 
ing in the Jewish culture that can be described graphi- 
cally. Abstract Jewish monotheism, like every other 
metaphysical "ism," needs an organ of expression. The 
organ of expression of monotheism is not plastic art (as 
that of Aryan polytheism) but abstract, metaphysical 

The realm of the eye is a realm of "sin." Sin is identi- 
cal with nature, lust, and passion. Judaism, like Islam, 
is puritanic, and legalistic. It attempts to regulate 
man's religious emotions by reason and rationalizes all 
his other elemental desires. All of man's relations to the 
supersensuous, to the supernatural, to the transcenden- 
tal, as well as to his fellow-man, are regulated by law, by 
the legal formula, which in turn is the creation of reason. 
Aryan religiosity, on the other hand, is purely emotion- 
al, non-legalistic, and a-rational. Emotion creates art. 
Cold reasoning creates legality and formulas. The Jew, 
like all Semites, cannot think in images, but only in 
definitions, terms, formulas, abstractions, concepts, 


laws, and doctrines. All the prohibitions of ancient 
Judaism against the plastic arts "Thou shalt not make 
an image before me, etc." are only the codified experi- 
ences and inclinations of the race. If the race had an 
eye to see, such prohibitions would not have been enact- 
ed, for the religion of a race is always commensurate 
with its temperament. 

The Jewish temperament kindles in time, not in 
space, and his mind functions algebraically, but not 
geometrically. Abstract thinking involves time, the or- 
der of succession. Concrete thinking involves space, the 
order of contiguity. To the Jew, time is everything, 
space nothing. For time he has several terms; for space, 
not even one. The Hebrew term Mocom means both 
"space" and "God." To the Jew of old, space is some- 
thing that is vague and metaphysical, but time is such 
a reality that even God is in it and not outside of it. 

"For a thousand years, O Lord, is like yesterday in 
thine eyes," the psalmist comforts himself. Judaism 
thus means time history, not geography. The Jew 
never was burdened with geography. His history, how- 
ever, begins with the very creation itself and will last 
until the day after eternity. His empire is in time, not 
in space, and hence is indestructible. For thousands of 
years the Jews said "ear" and the Aryans "eye"; the 
Jews "time" and the Aryans "space"; the Jews "reason" 
and the Aryans "emotion"; the Jews "history" and the 
Gentiles "geography." 

The beliefs, predilections, tastes, yearnings, aspira- 
tions, and longings of both races were fixed, and ex- 
pressed themselves in a given order until one day 
Baruch Spinoza appeared and tried to reverse the Jewish 
order: not time, but space; not algebra, but geometry; 


not history, but geography, is the order of things. He 
was the first Zionist of modern times. He was the first 
to express the view that the Jewish problem is a prob- 
lem of geography and of territory. He was the first Jew 
to think in geometric terms and to place religion on a 
purely emotional basis. Therefore, he became to hu- 
manity the God-intoxicated Jew, the man who was 
overwhelmed with religious emotion rather than guided 
by reason. 

Judaism speaks of the fear of God while Spinoza 
speaks of the love of God. Religiosity, per se, is called 
in Hebrew Yirath Shomaim y the fear of God or of 
heaven. Fear is a product of reason, love of emotion. 
The stone knows no fear. Plants already have an ink- 
ling of fear, while the animal is positively fearful. Only 
the stupid is fearless. The higher the intelligence, the 
greater the fear. Love, however, has nothing to do with 
intelligence. It can be found in every sphere of nature, 
from the lowest organism to the highest type of man. 
It is the primary force and most striking feature of na- 
ture. The Jew says "fear" because he is a rationalist, an 
incorrigible intellectualist. The Aryan says "love" be- 
cause he is an incorrigible emotionalist. Spinoza was the 
first Jew in history to say love of God to the exclusion 
of fear of God. In spite of the fact that he tried to think in 
geometric terms, he gave humanity the impression that 
he himself was a rationalist. His formula is "Amor Dei 
intellectual**" "intellectual love of God." The Jewish 
formula is "Yirath Shomaim" "the fear of heaven." 
Although the Jew, too, sometimes speaks of love of God, 
he does so because he was commanded to love God. But 
can there be love by command? The formula, therefore, 
remained the fear of God. 


The attempt to replace the Jewish ear by the eye, time 
by space, reason by emotion, fear of God by love of God 
in short, the attempt to graft upon Judaism an Aryan 
picture called forth the wrath of the synagogue, 


Science is the classified experience of man's mind, ar- 
rived at by inquiring, investigating, comparing, and 
analyzing. Knowledge is man's inner intuition and is 
innate. Science is acquired by a long-drawn-out proc- 
ess. A man may have all the sciences crowded into his 
brain but still know nothing. Many scientists know 
little, but a man sans science may know a great deal. 
Such knowledge is not exactly acquired. It is inner ra- 
diation, so to speak, the inner vision of the intellect, 
accentuated and attuned by highly developed instincts 
and enhanced by the sensitiveness peculiar only to such 
men. Just as there are individuals who have studied 
much and know little, so there are races whose wisdom 
is acquired either after a long process of development or 
is innate and intuitive. 

It stands to reason that the Jews, emerging from the 
eastern prairies and from the desert, and always on the 
move, had neither the time nor the opportunity to be- 
hold, observe, and study nature. Hence, they had no 
scientific attitude toward it. In the Bible almost every- 
thing can be found except science and humor, because 
both are only the outgrowth of comparison; comparing 
and classifying phenomena is science and comparing 
situations is humor. In the Bible nothing was com- 
pared, although everything in life was referred to. To be 
sure, there are plenty of contrasts in the Bible the 


contrast of sinner and saint, of wise man and fool, of 
evildoer and lover of justice, of rebel and obedient citi- 
zen. These contrasts, however, were not made or looked 
at from the point of view of incongruity, but from the 
vantage point of piety. 

Mathematics and physics of which the ancient Greeks 
were so proud were strange to the ancient Jews. One 
can see in the Bible the green lawns, the mountain 
peaks, the clouds which cover the earth like a garment, 
and the skies which appear like curtains, etc. Nature in 
the Bible, however, is purely lyrical and poetic, not 
scientific. Lyrical nature is common to all peoples, even 
to savages. Scientific nature is common only to those 
who actually attempt to penetrate into its mysteries and 
to wrest from it its secrets. The ancient Jews never 
made such attempts. What minimum scientific knowl- 
edge they did possess they used only for religious pur- 
poses. They knew of God not as a result of analytical 
thinking or scientific inquiry as, for example, Aristotle 
knew of God, but as a result of intuition. In science 
God is always, if he is there at all, a consequence, a 
final result. In Judaism he is the very beginning of 
things. Science may conclude with God, but Judaism 
begins with God. 

The ancient Jews knew very little of evolution by way 
of science. Nevertheless, they did not imagine the 
world as having been created in one minute or one day, 
but in evolutionary stages. They did not know scien- 
tifically what modern biology has learned, namely, that 
water is the origin of all life. They felt, however, that 
the existence of water antedated the creation of the 
world. God did not create water, and in the story of 


creation its existence was already presumed. The an- 
cient Jews did not have the physiological and anatomi- 
cal knowledge of the Greeks, but still the Greek term 
pneuma is identical with the ancient Hebrew term 
neshoma, both of which mean "breathing." The Jews 
had no psychological theories or laboratories, but they 
had a definite realistic conception of the soul the blood 
is the soul. 

Whatever they knew they knew by inner light, not 
through science, as did the Greeks or Romans. There 
was little analytical philosophy in ancient Judea. Yet 
the Bible contains two famous philosophical proofs for 
the existence of God, the cosmological and the moral. 
The older the Jew became, the more he learned, but he 
never changed his attitude toward science. He is still 
somewhat skeptical toward it even to the present day, 
believing that what is science today may be supersti- 
tion tomorrow. His approach to the great problems of 
life, in spite of his rationalism, was not analytical but 
synthetic, not discursive but intuitive. 

In his approach to the fundamental problems of life 
and of the world Spinoza seems to be a true Jew. He 
does not begin with analyses, presumptions, assump- 
tions, suppositions, and hypotheses, but, in the manner 
of the Old Testament, with God. But by this similarity 
of approach Spinoza did not intend to indicate any 
agreement with this Jewish concept. It was rather a 
result of his acosmistic world-picture. If God is every- 
thing, it is inevitable that one must begin with him. 
But the beginning with God per se does not necessitate 
an acosmistic world-view. God may be the beginning, 
but the world may still be real. 



Deity is the daughter of man's pride, for only a proud 
man has a God. Man, who feels himself at one with and 
part of nature only, has no human pride and conse- 
quently needs no God. Whatever man is, bhe noire or 
angel, sin-laden individual or saint, he is an intelligent 
being, and as such is in need of a teacher. Nature, how- 
ever, is stupid, and therefore chained to eternal laws 
because it would abuse any freedom granted to it. Only 
stupid beings must be guarded, chained, and tied down, 
since lack of intelligence would make the use of their 
freedom uncertain. 

The Jew thinks of God that He is the incarnation of 
freedom and intelligence, who is not bound by any laws. 
The Jew thinks of nature that it is a realm of absolute 
necessity, immured in eternal, immutable laws because 
it is absolutely stupid. Man, carried away by a feeling 
of pride, and in need of a teacher and guide, for his 
mind is consumed by curiosity and thirst for knowl- 
edge, cannot possibly accept stupid nature as his intel- 
lectual guide. Hence, the truisms expressed by Voltaire, 
that if God did not exist He would have to be invented, 
and by Dostoievsky, that if there is no God everything is 
permissible. Man's pride and his contempt for stupid 
nature require and postulate the existence of a deity. 
The ancient Jews, an undomesticated, stiff-necked des- 
ert race, were like all peoples growing up in free space, a 
race full of pride and overwhelmed with a sense of hu- 
man dignity. 

The Jew has retained this pride to the present day. 
It is this pride, indestructible and imperishable, that 
has kept him in the picture all these centuries. Appar- 


ently superfluous to the world and despised by everyone, 
he, nevertheless, considered himself indispensable to the 
fabric of the universe. Neither his trials nor his vicissi- 
tudes nor the deepest humiliations suffered at the hands 
of his enemies could break his pride. 

This humiliated and insulted but proud race of Jews, 
when it appeared upon the scene of history, looked at 
nature and was impressed with its stupidity. In no other 
book of word-literature is more contempt expressed for 
nature than in the first book of the Pentateuch. What 
does the story of the flood symbolize? "And God saw 
the earth, and behold ! It was corrupt, for all flesh had 
corrupted its way upon the earth." Since the story of 
the flood there was little said in the Bible about nature 
for the reason that it was considered to be the realm of 
imbecility. In this embarrassment he wrested from his 
genius the picture of Jehovah, an omniscient and a 
prescient God and the very embodiment of intelligence, 
freedom, and ethical idealism. Only such a God, who 
spans over eternities in the fraction of a second, whose 
word makes the stars tremble in their courses, whose 
wisdom planned all that is to be found in infinite space, 
from the microcosmos to the macrocosmos, was com- 
mensurate with his aspirations for guidance. He even 
created the myth of being related to God, and of being 
part of deity. The older he became, the more he de- 
lighted in the thought of having part of the supreme 
intelligence as his God and master. In cases of distress 
and dire need he called Him not only "master," "teach- 
er," and "judge," but also "father." To him, God was 
not only the embodiment of intelligence, but also the 
incarnation of all pity and compassion. "From the very 
depths, I call thee, O God!" exclaims the psalmist. But 


suddenly a Jew appeared and cried aloud, "This master, 
judge, teacher, guide, and father is nature, and this Su- 
preme Intelligence called 'God/ the embodiment of all 
freedom, is Himself chained to nature's immutable laws, 
and has neither will, intellect, nor soul. He is a pris- 


God chained to nature's laws is more horrible, terrify- 
ing, and ghastly than a God who has been assassinated. 
Was it to be expected that the Jews of Amsterdam 
would tolerate one in their midst who attempted to im- 
prison God and to humiliate Him by tying Him to and 
making Him at one with nature? 

The conception of God as a prisoner of nature is more 
blasphemous than the vision of a God who is wedded to 
Eros. God identical with nature is such a horrible sug- 
gestion to any Jew, so humiliating and insulting an 
idea, that whoever uttered it was bound to arouse the 
ire of a proud race. 


Judaism as a world-picture is metaphysics, but not 
physics. Yet, all historians of philosophy, with the ex- 
ception of Deussen, do not include biblical metaphysics 
in their works. They seem to deny that religious Juda- 
ism is a system of metaphysics. However, any attempt 
to understand the whole of things and to reduce every- 
thing to a first principle, as Judaism does, is metaphys- 
ics. Only because Judaism has stressed man more than 
God has its metaphysical import been overlooked. But 
even more than Judaism is metaphysics is it philosophy 
of history. It begins with the story of man, of the hu- 
man race, and is conscious of man's historical character. 
It is aware from the very beginning that man is subject 
to the historical process, to development, and to evolu- 


tion. He may suffer a relapse into barbarity, but then 
he slowly rises again and attains a new height. 

The Bible as a book of history is a book of great hap- 
penings, full of dramatic tension. It is a book of con- 
flicts, and hunger, rebelliousness and viciousness, peace 
and justice. It is not, however a book of love. 1 With 
the exception of the Ruth idyll and the Song of Songs 
there is very little love-making in the Bible. If it were 
a book of love, the Bible would not be a world-historic 
book and the great document of philosophy of history, 
but merely a collection of amorous episodes and ro- 
mances. It would only be belles-lettres. But because it 
is a book of hunger, it is a book of saints and rebels, a 
book of powerful personalities. The Bible is a book of 
man. It is true that it begins with the creation of the 
cosmos, but thereafter man is the central figure. From 
the very beginning he is placed in a tragic position. He 
must work out his own salvation, in a terrific struggle 
against nature and God. In the course of this struggle 
he shows his different colors, and the best and the worst 
that is in him is brought out. In his struggle between 
the desires of his heart and the goal given him, he nearly 
perishes. He stumbles and rises again, with a simplicity 
that is captivating in its beauty. 

There is nothing of the stillness of the desert in the 
Bible. It is full of motion, storm, and eruptive force. 
These are not isolated phenomena, but break forth out 
of a certain order of things, out of a certain scheme of 
life. They are historical phenomena and their descrip- 
tion is that of a great historical process. 

Judaism even as a system of metaphysics or ethics is 
philosophy of history. Its starting-point is the fall of 

1 See my Psychology desjudischen Getstes (Berlin, 1922), pp. 194-204. 


man and its conclusion is the figure of the Messiah. 
Even the attributes of God have a philosophic-historic 
meaning; God is peace unto Himself because He is one. 
His very oneness precludes conflict, for conflict pre- 
sumes at least two. Being only one. He must be the in- 
carnation of peace, and as such a model and a guide to 

International peace became one of the veritable ob- 
sessions of Judaism. When one says "One God facing 
one humanity," one must say "Peace." The Jew visual- 
ized a gradual evolution of mankind, and international 
peace reigning supreme was his highest goal. 

One of God's properties is justice. He is just and 
wants man to be just. The present, however, is full of 
injustice. Such a vision does not make the Jew pes- 
simistic, for he forgets the present and pins his hopes to 
the future, when justice will reign supreme. There is a 
gradual development from a lower to a higher ethical 
state. Some day in the far future man will attain the 
highest ethical state, moral perfectibility. Hence, the 
Jew is an optimist. He suffers the worst and hopes for 
the best. He despises the present and clings to the fu- 
ture. This future-consciousness was developed by his 
spiritual eye. Its most powerful expression is the idea of 
Messiah, who will be of and for this world. He will re- 
deem humanity not so much from sin as from injustice. 
Not meekness and humility but courage and virility 
will be his main qualities. But, not only the realm of 
man, but even the realm of nature will be permeated 
with the spirit of ethics and of peace, which will reign 
supreme even among the beasts of the field. Such is the 
vision which the prophet dangles before man's eye the 
lamb and the wolf will dwell peacefully together, and 


the lad will guide them. This eschatology, this future- 
music, is philosophy of history. Just as the ancient Jew 
imagined that the cosmos was created in evolutionary 
stages, so did he conceive world's history as a slow proc- 
ess of evolution, which made life worth living to him. 

The ancient Egyptians, too, had an outspoken future- 
consciousness, but it found its expression not in the 
messianic hope, but in the pyramids, in the enormity of 
their plastic creations, and in the embalming of their 
dead. Their future-consciousness was purely material- 
istic, physical, concrete. One could almost seize it by 
the hand. But more than it was future-consciousness, it 
was an extension of the present. 

The Jewish future-consciousness is something spirit- 
ual, abstract, and purely idealistic. There is no eternal 
present. There is a past, present, and future. The past 
was bad and the present is miserable. The great day, 
however, is the day to come, which will be, not a day of 
destruction, reckoning, or redemption, but one of recon- 
struction and reparation. The Messiah will not redeem 
souls, but will free the minds and purge the hearts. 

Such was the hope the Jew carried in his soul through 
all the centuries. Such was the picture he had of life and 
its processes, the picture of the gradual rise of man after 
a hard fall. Such was the Jewish conception of the his- 
toric rhythm, until Baruch Spinoza came and tried to 
destroy this hope, to obliterate all the colors of this pic- 
ture, and to reverse this conception of the historic process. 
There is no history of evolution, philosophy of history, 
historic plan, or fall and rise of man. There will be no 
Messiah, and man will never be liberated or redeemed, 
because life is not a process but a status. It is not dynam- 
ics, but mechanics. It is not ethics but anthropology; 


that is to say, science, mechanics, and physics. To 
Spinoza the Bible is just a book, and, in part, a silly 
book. He says that the prophets of Israel, those storm- 
birds of world's history, who evolved the greatest phi- 
losophy of history, had only an inadequate idea of God. 
All that the Jew visualizes about himself and his rela- 
tion to God is a false vision. His dream of the future is 
a false dream and his hope a false hope. 


The dualistic world-picture is the heritage of man's ex- 
perience. Anatomically man is a duality, and his eye 
beholds duality everywhere, heaven and earth, summer 
and winter, cold and heat, man and woman, etc. From 
time immemorial man considered heaven and earth to 
be two distinct and opposite realms. With his growing 
ability to think in abstract terms, the earth became the 
symbol of nature and heaven that of the spirit or of God. 
Even the psalmist sang: "The heavens are the heavens 
for God and the earth he gave to man." This dualistic 
conception of things became an organic part of every 
type of culture and religion. 

Philosophically, dualism has at all times presented it- 
self as either mind and matter, body and soul, or ideas 
and senses. Psychologically, it presented itself as sen- 
suality and reason, definition and simile, concept and 
image. Religiously, it presented itself as God and Luci- 
fer, Mary and the witch, or angel and devil. Every field 
of human thought has become permeated with dualism. 
Even monotheistic Judaism is not monistic but dualis- 
tic. The antinomy is God and the world, or spirit and 
matter. But, as a matter of fact, pure monotheism with- 
out any pantheistic admixture must be dualistic in char- 


acter. If God created the world and equipped it with a 
set of autonomous laws by which it is governed. He 
cannot be a part of or at one with nature. 

It was in view of these overwhelming facts that Hous- 
ton Stewart Chamberlain asserted that all monistic 
thinking is only a perverted aberration of the human 
mind because reality as beheld by the human eye is not 
monistic but dualistic. Monism may be the postulate of 
metaphysics, but it is not the fact of life. All true phi- 
losophy begins not with postulates and suppositions, but 
with a classification of the facts of life. Even the an- 
cient Hindus with their negative attitude toward life 
began with life's reality, although they later rejected it. 
To Western man dualism has been nothing short of an 
apodictic certainty, for it is neither a doctrine nor a 
hypothesis but a fact. 

Monism, however, is a theory not only to the average 
man but also to many thinkers. Most philosophers of 
both ancient and modern times have been dualists. 

Only two men of the West, Plato and Spinoza, clung 
to monism. To Plato it appeared that the highest idea, 
the idea of the good, is above all phenomena, senses, 
men, and gods. In many passages in his Republic he 
makes it clear that the idea of the good does not rest in 
Deity, but Deity rests upon the bosom of the highest 
idea. This highest idea is a supreme oneness, from 
which everything emanates. To Spinoza supreme one- 
ness is substance, from which everything "follows." The 
human mind, however, can conceive of only two "ema- 
nations," extension and thinking, matter and spirit. In 
this manner Spinoza, the founder of monism in the mod- 
ern world, became to modern man what Plato was to 
medieval mystics, the herald of the idea of oneness in a 


world of diversity. Plato, having lived among a people 
free from religious prejudice, could almost attain the 
age of eighty without being disturbed and molested in 
his moods. But Spinoza, who lived among a people lad- 
en with tradition, could not attain his twenty-fifth year 
without being excommunicated. 

Such is the explanation offered for Spinoza's excom- 
munication by many of his followers and disciples. The 
fact is, however, that he was excommunicated, not be- 
cause of his monistic world-picture or his theory of una 
substantia^ but because of his doctrine that God and na- 
ture are identical, which to the elders of the Amsterdam 
community seemed to be the height of provocative 
blasphemy. Nature is impure, the incarnation of sin, 
lust, and desire. God is pure, incorporeal, and pure spir- 
it. If, however, He is identical with nature, He, too, is 
full of desires and sin-laden, and nature's impurity be- 
comes a part of the Deity. His identity with nature de- 
prives Him of His power to lead, guide, choose, punish, 
and reward. The Jewish elders of the Amsterdam com- 
munity recognized in Spinozism the most appalling and 
shocking blasphemy ever uttered by a Jew. If nature 
and God are identical surely nature and man are identi- 
cal. Man, then, is not the crown of creation, but is only 
an erring caprice in a mechanistic universe. This was an 
unbearable thought to the elders. From their poipt of 
view there was nothing left to do but to excommunicate 
Spinoza. But by his very doctrine he excommunicated 
himself and the formal excommunication was super- 


Has God a function? We need only page the first 
chapters of the Bible to be convinced that He has one 


to guide and inspire mankind and to witness the realiza- 
tion of the good. Since He made man in His own image, 
man, too, has a function to do good. 

Spinoza's God has no function because He is only the 
order of things and can neither desire no postulate, com- 
mand, nor choose. His man, too, being only one of the 
modi, has no function either. Everything concerning 
his life is predetermined and predestined, and conse- 
quently he is beyond good and evil. It was this latter 
feature which caused Nietzsche to be overwhelmed by 
Spinozism. Judaism, however, not only does not deny 
good and evil, but their admitted existence is the very 
basis of its entire structure. Few words are used as often 
in the first chapter of the Pentateuch as the word 
"good/' Soon after man was created the problem of 
good and evil was formulated in such a powerful and 
impressive manner that it nearly became the central 
theme of all ancient Jewish metaphysics. Evil is as 
much a reality as is good, and both God and man are 
aware of it. Why a good God also created evil is one of 
God's puzzles. But man, so the ancient Jews thought, 
cannot and need not solve all of God's riddles. Man has 
a difficult-enough time to solve his own problem. 

God, Himself, is often shocked by the revelation of the 
forces of evil. It took Him some time, so the myth goes, 
to recognize that man's heart is full of evil from his 
earliest days. The evil, however, is not entirely super- 
fluous, for it serves a useful purpose. Good would not 
be good if it were not contrasted with evil. The entire 
ethical conception of ancient Judaism necessitates its 
existence. If man were good by necessity, because evil 
were nonexistent, his goodness would not be meritorious. 
Good in the ethical meaning of the term is so because it 


requires an effort and is only possible by the existence 
of evil. Ancient Judaism attempted to explain in this 
manner the existence of evil and its compatibility with a 
good God. But then came Spinoza and explained that 
there is no good or evil, and therefore life has no purpose. 
Out of purely mechanical revolutions no ethical ends 
can arise. He thereby destroyed the very basis of the 
Jewish conception of ethics. 

This a-morality was predestined to become to man a 
source of despair and the kindling point of pessimism. 
One who denies the ends, and who looks at the world 
from beyond good and evil, must necessarily deny the 
future also. Everything is one continuous present. Ju- 
daism, however, postulates that not only is there a fu- 
ture, but that it alone is all that men live for, because it 
is pregnant with so many possibilities for good. The 
mediate future was considered a period when good will 
prevail and evil will be eliminated. Only in the far fu- 
ture, in the last days, will man reach his great destina- 
tion. He will be ready to receive the Messiah, the Liber- 
ator, whose very appearance will be symbolic of the dis- 
appeara^ce of and the victory over evil. 

This unbridgeable gulf between Spinozism and Judaism 
can be traced to a difference in the conception of God. 
To Judaism, God is the creator, who later on becomes 
the renovator. Instead of referring to the creation of the 
world, one refers to the constant and continued renova- 
tion of the world. To Spinoza, God is not a creator or a 
renovator, but is either ens rationis, a category of reason, 
or the given cosmic order. Because He is neither creator 
nor renovator, there is no border line between Him and 
nature. This identity obliterates the line of demarca- 
tion between being and becoming, will and intellect, and 


is and ought. If nature and God are identical, then how 
does becoming originate ? It can only originate in being. 
Becoming is nature. Being is God. He is identical with 
Being, and in Him all Being is embraced; nothing is out- 
side of Him. When being and becoming coincide, there 
is no God and no process of evolution, but only mechan- 
ical revolutions. This point of view the Jews could not 
accept, for it reduces a living God to a dead mechanical 
principle which is divested of all reality. 


During the last eighty years many commentators, 
critics, and historians have cried that Spinoza's excom- 
munication was not justified since his doctrine was 
traceable to Jewish sources. They trace his determin- 
ism to Crescas, his depersonalization of God and his 
amor Dei to Maimonides, his doctrine of attributes to 
Saadia, his immanence and omnipresence of God to 
Gersonides, and his pantheism to Abraham ibn Ezra. 
These theories and hypotheses have no foundation in 
fact, because, as will be shown in the following pages, 
there is nothing essentially Jewish in Spinoza's world- 
outlook. He is chiefly concerned not with recognition 
but with salvation, not with human welfare but with 
beatitude, not with social justice but with redemption, 
not with God but with destiny. The sum total of his 
doctrine is not Jewish but Buddhistic in character. 

The medieval Jewish philosophers were concerned 
with one central problem, the existence of God. Wheth- 
er He be deanthropomorphized, having only negative 
attributes, whether everything follows from Him by ne- 
cessity, or whether His omnipresence presumes panthe- 
ism, do not contradict His existence as a personal, self- 


conscious, and a living God. Even those medieval Jew- 
ish thinkers whose conception of God was tinted by 
pantheism have never denied His personality. 

Abraham ibn Ezra's alleged pantheism expressing it- 
self in God's omnipresence was not a revolutionary doc- 
trine, but only a re-expression of the emanation of God 
of the Old Testament. All presume a personal God. In 
Spinoza's God-idea, however, the problem of emanation 
does not even arise. 

Nor can it be said that Maimonides' deindividualized 
God was the background of Spinoza's impersonal God. 
Maimonides' God was only deanthropomorphized and 
not depersonalized. Even though we know only of his 
negative attributes, He still remains a living, personal, 
and absolute God, who as such is deeply concerned with 
man. Spinoza's God, however, being impersonal, can- 
not be concerned with man or with his problems. 

Neither is Spinoza's determinism that of Crescas. 
The latter, like all philosophers with an atomistic world- 
picture, attempted to explain the unity of the forces of 
nature by the laws of natural motion. In the realm of 
nature he saw the realm of cause and effect. However, 
he did not apply his determinism to the spiritual world 
and did not attack the basis of ethics. To him God is 
still an ethical personality and is a guide and inspiration 
to man. Spinoza's determinism, however, is all embrac- 
ing, extending both to nature and to spirit, to God and 
to man. 

Saadia's doctrine of God's many attributes has been 
likened to Spinoza's doctrine of infinite attributes. The 
two theories, however, have nothing in common. Spi- 
noza's theory is only an affirmation of the many-faced- 
ness of the substance. He actually misuses even the 


term "attributes/' He intended to demonstrate the 
many dead properties of the substance, and not its liv- 
ing qualities; for only a living God can possess attri- 
butes. His substance contains only two so-called attri- 
butes. The infinity of attributes of which he speaks has 
been proved by Edward von Hartmann to be only a 
figure of speech and not a philosophical reality. 2 How- 
ever, the infinity of attributes of Saadia's God reflects an 
infinite, living God. 

Whether or not the one or the other thought of the 
medieval Jewish philosophers coincides with Spinoza 
does not make him either a Jewish philosopher or the 
culmination point of medieval Jewish philosophical 
thought. There is one line of demarcation between 
Spinoza and the representatives of Judaism which can 
never be obliterated. Judaism teaches a living God con- 
cerned with man, while Spinozism teaches a dead God 
who cannot be interested in man. 

Spinoza, like all major philosophers who created a 
synthetic world-picture, drew from many sources. 
There can be no doubt that many a thought was sug- 
gested to him by one or another medieval Jewish philos- 
opher. But merely because a certain thought of a me- 
dieval Jewish philosopher coincides with one of Spino- 
za's ideas does not make him a Jewish philosopher, or 
the culmination point of Jewish philosophical thought. 
All the medieval Jewish philosophers taught a living 
God who was an ethical personality. Spinoza's God, 
however, being only the order of things, is a dead deity, 
divested both of ethical personality and of reality. It 
can thus be seen that there is a yawning gap between 
Spinozism and medieval Jewish philosophy. 

9 History of Metaphysics (Leipzig, 1899), I, 407. 



The rabbis are crazy. The Bible commentators are 
dreamers and inventors of falsehoods, and the cabalists 
are jabberers. 3 Such was Spinoza's opinion about the re- 
ligious and intellectual representatives of his own peo- 
ple. He marshaled many authors to demonstrate the 
intellectual, moral, and religious inferiority of his race. 
He accepted the testimony of the Samaritans and of 
Tacitus, and convicted the Jews upon such evidence. 
He even attempted to ascribe to ancient Judaism the 
commandment to hate the enemy, citing not the Old 
Testament but Matthew, whom he surely knew to have 
misquoted the Pentateuch. Spinoza thus shows that his 
judgment was not objective, but was clearly biased. 
As if this display of prejudice were not sufficient, he 
shows his contempt for his race by observing that the 
principal reasons for the survival of the Jewish people 
have been the hatred of the Gentiles and the practice of 

He also had little respect for ancient Judaism as a 
cultural force, and such documents of ancient Hebraic 
religiosity as the Psalms and Job meant little to him. 
Neither the idealism and ethical purity of the prophets 
nor the great figures of the Old Testament impressed 
him. Under his hand the entire Old Testament became 
an inferior piece of folk lore, fit only for semicivilized 

Spinoza has often been called a saint comparable only 
to Socrates and Jesus. Yet in relation to his people he 
was anything but saintly. His tragic fate at the hands 
of the Jewish elders of Amsterdam did not make him a 
tragic hero, who was purified by his experiences. He 

3 Theological Political Tractate, chaps, ix and x. 


saw only the fact of the excommunication, and over- 
looked entirely its religious and political justification 
and its psychological necessity. The struggling Jewish 
community of Amsterdam, which had but yesterday 
freed itself from the Spanish Inquisition, could not 
tolerate in its midst one who was engaged in undermin- 
ing the very foundations of Judaism. Nor could it ex- 
pose itself to the dangers lurking without. Even though 
Holland was nominally theologically liberal, this toler- 
ance was limited chiefly to a toleration of older heresies 
and of such freethinkers who could not become danger- 
ous to orthodoxy. The Dutch, however, were highly in- 
tolerant of any new teachings which struck at the roots 
of the orthodox creeds. If the Jewish community of 
Amsterdam had ignored Spinoza and his heterodoxies, 
it would have exposed itself to political persecution. 

While at that time liberalism was strongly intrenched 
in Holland, the Dutch masses, as painted by Spinoza, 
were steeped in fanaticism. It required no Spinoza to 
grasp the ferocity of the fanatic Dutch rabble when 
aroused to provocation. They would either destroy or 
drive out the young Jewish community of Amsterdam. 
If Spinoza had viewed his excommunication as realisti- 
cally as he regarded the state, he would surely not have 
resented his expulsion from the synagogue, which the 
elders intended more for self-protection than for punish- 

The refugees of the Inquisition in Amsterdam found it 
difficult to maintain the frontiers of Judaism, for the 
many Marranos who returned to the fold brought with 
them dubious religious ideas, which distorted the Jewish 
religious personality. Though the Marranos had ex- 
posed themselves to the greatest dangers in order to 


maintain the forms of Jewish life, they nevertheless im- 
bibed much of the spirit of the Roman Catholic church. 
Although an obstinate minority, they could not entirely 
free themselves from the inexorable influence of their 
environment. Although their morale is worthy of our 
admiration, their adaptability was impaired by the re- 
ligious twilight in which they moved. The tragic career 
of Uriel Acosta is symbolic of the fate of many of his 
fellow-Marranos, who could not fully reorientate them- 
selves upon their return to their ancestral faith. When 
they settled in Amsterdam, it was difficult for them to 
find their old Jewish anchor ground. The elders had to 
deal severely with those individuals who jeopardized the 
religious entity and the political security of the com- 
munity. Spinoza's expulsion from the synagogue was 
necessitated by philosophical, religious, and sociological 
reasons. His keen mind could readily distinguish be- 
tween the Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh of Judaism and the En 
Kat Pan of pantheism. He relied upon the innocence 
of the elders of the community to keep him within the 
fold; but he underestimated their critical intelligence. 

Under more normal conditions the Jews are tolerant 
in religious and metaphysical matters. A perusal of me- 
dieval Jewish philosophy reveals many heterodoxies 
whose authors went unrebuked. Abraham ibn Ezra and 
Gersonides, two of the foremost Jewish philosophers of 
the Middle Ages, were of dubious orthodoxy. Yet they 
drew no censure from the synagogue. In the case of 
Spinoza, however, political considerations in addition to 
religious and moral motives made his excommunication 

A philosopher who thinks sub specie aeternitatis can 
be expected at least to take his own experience philo- 


sophically. But by his attitude toward the synagogue 
he sinned against the temperament of the philosopher, 
and thus proved that there never has been a philosopher 
who could embody his philosophy in his person. As a 
man Spinoza was a saint, but as a former Jew he was a 


Just as the Occident is predominantly Spinozistic and 
not Kantian, so, too, is the modern Jewish world pre- 
dominantly Spinozistic. It is an irony of fate that the 
synagogue, which excommunicated Spinoza, was later 
partly conquered by his spirit. Today, two hundred 
and fifty-six years after his death, Jewish life in the 
West is permeated with his spirit. Three of the main 
currents of present-day Jewish life the reform move- 
ment, inaugurated in Germany; the Haskalah move- 
ment, inaugurated in Eastern Europe; and the Zionist 
movement, initiated in Central Europe are directly 
traceable to Spinoza. 

Spinoza looked at Judaism from a purely secular point 
of view, and discovered in it many secular elements. 
Today the more westernized Jew no longer believes that 
Judaism is a purely sacerdotal, or priestly fabric. Even 
reform Jewry, to whom Judaism is only a religion, also 
admits that it contains secular motives as well. What- 
ever secularization Judaism in the West has undergone 
during the last one hundred and fifty years is primarily 
due to the influence of Spinoza. 

Many Jewish historians attempt to trace reform Juda- 
ism to Kant, because of the many Jewish adherents of 
the Konigsberg philosopher. Actually, however, it was 
primarily motivated by Spinoza. The mediator be- 
tween the two was Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, whose 


"Nathan the Wise" made his Jewish contemporaries 
accept his religious outlook which was primarily Spi- 

Lessing's friends, Moses Mendelssohn, the foremost 
intellectual Jew of this day, rejected Spinoza, and con- 
stantly fought against his doctrine. Yet, by this very 
controversy he introduced Spinoza to the Jewish intel- 
lectuals of his time. Several of his followers, notably 
Israel Jacobson and Jacob Baer, established the Jewish 
reform movement in Germany in the beginning of the 
nineteenth century. Although these men were not origi- 
nal thinkers, their new enterprise succeeded, primarily 
because of the deep impression which Spinozism via 
Lessing made upon the Jewish generation. 

Reform Judaism is definitely committed to several 
basic principles, among which are higher biblical criti- 
cism as established by Spinoza and subjective religiosity 
as propounded by Schleiermacher, a follower and dis- 
ciple of Spinoza. The Theological Political Tractate 
opened new vistas to critically minded religionists. The 
founders of reform Judaism, like all enlightened men of 
their day, had a negative attitude to all dogma, mysti- 
cism, and religious myths. The emergence from the 
Ghetto necessitated a religious orientation and a read- 
justment to given Western conditions, namely, material- 
ism in France and Spinozism in Germany. 

With the shattering of the dogmatic structure, the 
critical replaced the traditional approach. To reform 
Judaism the Old Testament is a book of myths, reli- 
gious legends, episodes, folk lore, primitive metaphysical 
ideas for primitive people, and the like, but it is not a 
book of dogma or of revelation. That is a Spinozistic 
innovation, but not Jewish tradition. Spinoza and his 


Jewish followers failed to take into consideration that 
the Bible, besides being a book of laws, is also a descrip- 
tion of the eternal cycle. Furthermore, it is an inex- 
haustible source of ethics. To the extent that the idea 
of the good is eternal is the book in which it is expounded 
eternal. Although the reformers often emphasize the 
ethics of the prophets, it is mere lip service in compari- 
son to traditional Jewish ethicism. 

Just as the ethics of the reformers has little in common 
with traditional Jewish ethics, so is their religiosity de- 
tached from the original Jewish sources. To them, as to 
Spinoza, prayer has little meaning, for their religiosity, 
too, is subjective and is not correlated to an ultimate 
metaphysical principle. To the early reformers, as to 
Schleiermacher and Spinoza, religiosity was either the 
expression of admiration for the adventure of life and its 
mysteries or a submissiveness to fate. It had nothing 
to do with any objective force. 

Thus, higher criticism and subjective religiosity, two 
of the basic features of reform Judaism, are easily trace- 
able to Spinoza. However, they do not possess him 
solely they must share him with advanced Christian 

Not only did Spinoza enhance the cultural process in 
the German ghetto, but he was also of great significance 
to the march of events in the Jewish settlements of 
Eastern Europe. Just as Leibnitz was the founder of 
German Aufkldrung, so was Spinoza the father of the 
modern Jewish enlightenment. Spinozism swept away 
more dust from Jewish life superstition, fanaticism, 
false creeds, childish conceptions, petrified rabbinism, 
and stale, useless traditions than did all the Jewish en- 
lighteners of the eighteenth century combined. Her- 


bart did not err greatly when he called Spinoza a Jewish 
enlighten er. 

Spinozism penetrated into the Hebrew literature of 
Eastern Europe at the end of the eighteenth century. 
Yet Spinozism seeped into the eastern ghetto at an even 
earlier date. Beginning with the middle of the eight- 
eenth century, hosts of young scholars deserted the east- 
ern ghetto and came to Germany to acquire secular 
knowledge. There they found the air charged with 
Spinozism, and in their turn, succumbed to it. Many of 
them later returned to live in the eastern ghetto, and 
brought their Spinozistic sympathies with them. In this 
manner Spinozism reached eastern Jewish life before it 
reached Hebrew literature. 

Spinoza's influence on Hebrew letters began with 
Solomon Maimon, the annihilator of Kant, who intro- 
duced Spinozism to the Jewish scholarly world. It be- 
came a moving force in the entire Hebrew literature of 
the nineteenth century. Such eminent scholars as 
S. D, Z. Luzzato in the beginning, Solomon Rubin in the 
middle, and Nahum Sokolow at the end of the nine- 
teenth century were occupied with Spinozism either pos- 
itively or negatively. 

The Jewish enlightenment movement had spent its 
energies by the end of the nineteenth century. Jewish 
life, even in the East, had become so secularized that it 
would have disintegrated, if not for the rise of a new 
force, Zionism. Although Theodore Herzl and Max 
Nordau were the formal creators of this movement, it 
was Baruch Spinoza who really created it. He was the 
first man in Western Europe who recognized in Jewry 
not a religious but an ethnic group. As a national group 
they are entitled to a national territory which is Pales- 


tine. Thus, Baruch Spinoza was the first Zionist of 
modern times in Europe. 

Spinoza, like Herzl, emphasized the secular and na- 
tionalistic character of Judaism, as well as the impor- 
tance of anti-Semitism, for the survival of the Jewish 
people. This secular view of Judaism was adopted first 
by Kant and then by Schopenhauer, who popularized 
it among the intellectuals of the West. It was through 
this channel that it reached Arthur James Balfour, the 
author of the Balfour Declaration. With the rise of 
Herzl and Nordau, Zionism came as a surprise to west- 
ern Jewry. But to the non-Jewish intellectual world it 
was already a well-known story. 

Another powerful Jewish movement in Eastern Eu- 
rope, whose adherents are counted in the millions 
Chassidism although it is not a consequence of, is a 
parallel to, Spinozism. It arose in the beginning of the 
eighteenth century as a reaction to rabbinic super- 
rationalism, with its hairsplitting scholasticism called 
"pilpul." Chassidism, with its romantic religiosity and 
pantheistic motives, as symbolized in the person of its 
founder, captivated the Jewish masses of Central and 
Eastern Europe because it relieved them of a degenerate 
intellectualism, which had removed them from the reali- 
ties of life. It also relieved them of the yoke of dry 
legalism imposed upon them by the rabbis. It brought 
them nearer to nature, which, to them, seemed to par- 
take of the divine. God, as a personality, receded from 
the foreground and was replaced by deity, divested of 

Southern Chassidism, confined to Poland, eliminated 
the term Elohim, "God," and replaced it with Elohut, 
"deity." Only the rationalistically orientated school of 


Chassidism of the North continued to cling to the term 
Elohim, "God." However, even this wing of Chassidism 
stressed the fact that God is coequal with nature, and 
its formula is Elohim> B'gimatria y Hateva, "God, numeri- 
cally, equals nature." In old gnostic manner, Chassidism 
deduces numbers from letters and uses them for all sorts 
of speculative theories. Elohim translated into numbers 
equals "86," while Hateva translated into numbers also 
equals "86." The founders of northern Chassidism 
never tire of stressing the quality of numbers inherent 
in the terms of God and nature. This, in itself, testifies 
to the deep-rooted pantheistic tendency in Chassidism. 

In view of these facts, the assertion is justified that 
Spinoza's influence on the cultural process of his own 
race in modern times was almost as powerful as was his 
influence upon the general cultural process in the West. 
Spinoza, Plato, and Aristotle are the most popular phi- 
losophers in the Ghetto. Although Spinoza is still con- 
sidered to be heresy personified, he is looked upon as the 
very embodiment of philosophical genius. The ortho- 
dox Jew, with his medieval outlook upon life, who be- 
holds Spinoza and hates him, is yet proud of him, be- 
cause he feels that he has accomplished something un- 
usual for the cultural position of his race in the West. 

Baruch Spinoza, the excommunicated Jew, made the 
Jewish cultural position in the West not only tenable, 
but impregnable. But the same Baruch Spinoza was 
actually responsible for the cultural anti-Semitism of 
modern Europe. He shaped the strong anti-Jewish at- 
titude of his greatest admirers, followers, and adepts 
Herder, Goethe, Hegel, and Fichte. They were out- 
spoken Jew-haters. They admired Spinoza, but with 
their master hated his race and its world-picture. Men 


who think sub specie aeternitatis^ in contradistinction to 
sub specie boni> must necessarily hate Judaism. 

The border line which separates Judaism from Chris- 
tianity is not Jesus but Christ. Many liberal Jews may 
accept Jesus as a teacher of morality, but will not ac- 
cept Christ as a part of the God-head. A Jew who 
speaks in terms of Christ ceases to be a Jew. 

Baruch Spinoza was the only distinguished represent- 
ative of his race who not only spoke in terms of Christ 
but who formulated a Christian doctrine in philosophi- 
cal terms. 4 It is reasonable for a Christian theologian 
to place Jesus above Moses, but it is paradoxical for a 
Jew to do so. In many passages of his Theological Po- 
litical Tractate he states that Jesus represents a higher 
stage of spirituality than does Moses. "Moses imagined 
God only as a leader, lawgiver and king, as merciful, 
just, et cetera. All these are only attributes of human na- 
ture which may not be identified with the divine nature. 
This is valid only of the prophets, but not of Christ, for 
Christ was not so much a prophet as he was the mouth 
of God."' 

Throughout this work Moses is described as a secular 
leader and not as a religious person. He is primarily an 
educator, political leader, and a lawgiver, whose laws 
are only valid for the Hebraic state. But of Christ, 
Spinoza says, the divine wisdom has assumed in him 
human form. Christ is the way of salvation, 6 and he 
alone has received God's revelation. 

The God-idea of Moses and the prophets was inade- 
quate, that of Christ was adequate. The spirit of Moses 
is that of organization, the spirit of Christ is the idea O f 

4 Friedrich Jodl, Geschichtc der Ethtk in der neuen Philosophic (Vienna, 1892). 
s Op. cfa, chap. iv. 6 Ibtd., chap. i. 


God. Moses and the prophets only formulated tempo- 
rary laws, Christ enunciated eternal truth. Moses and 
the prophets were legalists and utilitarians, Christ was 
an idealist and a moralist. The prophets were only con- 
cerned with the state and its preservation, Christ with 
humanity at large. 

Throughout the Theological Political Tractate Spinoza 
affirms the attitude of the New Testament toward the 
Mosaic law, arguing that the rise of Christianity invali- 
dated the old law. He sees the Old Testament through 
a Paulinic prison. It represents earthly things, the flesh, 
while the New Testament represents the spirit. 7 The one 
is law, the other love; the one is statute, the other faith. 

Although Spinoza was excommunicated from the 
synagogue, he never officially joined the church. Yet 
no man of modern times has sung a more moving paean 
to Christ than did Baruch Spinoza. "Only through the 
spirit of Christ, can we come to the love of justice and of 
our fellowman." 8 He vied with medieval Christian theo- 
logians in picturing the figure of Christ as the most 
exalted and most divine. He was one of the few philos- 
ophers of modern times who legitimatized Christianity 

There is nothing enigmatic in Spinoza's relationship to 
Christianity. Not his suffering at the hands of the 
elders of Amsterdam determined his attitude, but his 
love for Christianity compelled their attitude toward 
him. 9 The pantheistic^ Spinoza regarded theistic Juda- 

7 Spino2a, Letters, No. 75. 8 Ittd., No. 76. 

9 Jodl, op. cit.) I, 337-38, observes. "Die wichtigsten speculative!! Wahrheiten 
des Christentums hat Spinoza auf philosophischem Wege gefunden und entwickelt, 
ohne sich dabei inmindestens der chnstkchen Vorstellung oder der christhchen 
Sprache zu bedienen erne Erscheinung, welche man in der Geschichte der abend- 
landischen Literatur wohl gradezu als emzig wird hinstellen durfen " 


ism with suspicion and hostility. In Judaism he found 
what he hated most, viz., free will, moral ends, and the 
supremacy of man. But in Paulinic Christianity he 
found what was nearest to his heart, viz., a pantheistic 
God-conception, determinism, the quest for salvation, 
and the spirit of resignation arising out of a cosmic 
world-picture. In one of his letters to his friend Olden- 
burg he admitted that his God was the God of St. Paul. 10 
It was, therefore, entirely fitting that the Portuguese 
Jew, Baruch Spinoza, should find his last resting-place 
in a Christian church. 

10 Spinoza, op /., No. 73. 




I AM not a Marxist/' Karl Marx once exclaimed. 
"I am not a Spinozist," Baruch Spinoza could ex- 
claim with equal justice. Any number of world- 
concepts, ranging from the grossest materialism to the 
cloudiest mysticism, from the vaguest form of panthe- 
ism to the most definite type of monotheism, are being 
identified with Spinozism. Whether the Spinozistic doc- 
trine underwent three phases of development as Avena- 
rius maintained, or was fully developed when first con- 
ceived by Spinoza, as Kuno Fisher believed, all histo- 
rians of philosophy today agree that Spinozism repre- 
sents a definite entity with fixed frontiers and demarca- 
tion lines. Because of the deep religious motive which 
underlies it, Spinozism, as a world-concept, has experi- 
enced the same fate as Platonism. Attempts were made 
to adjust it to every type of consciousness and thought 
and to every world-picture. 

Whether Spinozism is, in the final analysis, monothe- 
ism as Friedrich Paulsen points out, or whether it is 
identical with atheism as taught by Jacobi, is less impor- 
tant than the fact that it revolves around the definite 
doctrine that God is coequal with nature. It is as clear 
and unequivocal a system of pantheism as any ever 
evolved since the days of the Upanishads. As panthe- 
ism, it is both mysticism and religion. Like all mysti- 
cism, it is primarily interested in establishing a definite 
relationship between the individual and the absolute. 



And like all genuine religion it begins with God. A crit- 
ical presentation of Spinoza's theories will clearly dem- 
onstrate that it is religiosity couched in philosophical 
terms, and that it is mysticism expressed in philosophi- 
cal terminology. 

It is not difficult to recognize Spinoza's mysticism 
even in his personality. Like most of the great mystics, 
he, too, was inclined to monasticism, solitude, and quiet 
contemplation. With all great mystics he could say, 
"This is not my world." No medieval monk has lived 
a more pious life, and no ancient Hindu saint was less 
concerned with this world and its hustle and bustle, 
than Spinoza. Not since the days of Buddha has world- 
history seen a man more retired unto himself, more dis- 
interested in the lust and pleasures of life, than was 
Spinoza. It is true that unconcernedness with earthly 
life is not always characteristic of mysticism. The 
greatest of all medieval mystics, Jacob Bohme, stood 
with both feet in life, was an active paterfamilias, and 
managed his household with a certain feeling of joy. 
Some mystics have appeared actively in the r61es of re- 
formers, while others practiced an asceticism which 
bordered on self-torture. Mysticism, too, has its ex- 
tremists. Spinoza, however, was not an extremist. 
Neither was he active as a reformer nor did he practice 
extreme asceticism. He was satisfied with retiring from 
the world and dedicating himself to the realm of the 

All mystics have in common a deep-rooted conviction 
that they are, in one way or another, in contact with 
God or with the absolute. The active mystics, like 
great religionists, believed that their spoken words are 
the words of God, and that they are only His passive 


messengers. All their actions, movements, thoughts, 
feelings, and words were animated by God's spirit. The 
prophets of Israel were overwhelmed with the feeling 
that they were merely messengers of God. Their mes- 
sages to the people began with the words "Thus spake 
the Lord." Men with such different temperaments as 
Socrates, Mohammed, and Jacob Bohme believed that 
they were moved or driven by a divine force. 

Spinoza was not the only mystic who considered in- 
tuitive knowledge and recognition to be the highest 
forms of knowledge. Bohme, the greatest mystic of 
modern times, was so convinced that he was only an 
agent of the divine spirit that he exclaimed, "When I 
thus write, the spirit of a great wonderful recognition is 
dictating to me." Bernhard de Clairveaux, a medieval 
mystic, speaks of inner contemplation as the safest 
type of recognition of the invisible. Hugo de St. Victor, 
another great mystic of the Middle Ages, assures us 
that the inner revelation of man is the highest form of 
recognition. All great mystics expressed the same 
thought. The great modern mystic, Hamann, magus of 
the North, only repeats the words of Spinoza when he 
says that conviction by proof is only secondhand cer- 
tainty and can never be considered real truth. 

It is one of the main characteristics of the mystic that 
he yearns for absolute truth, and is never satisfied with 
empiric knowledge. Spinoza, too, had only contempt 
for empiric knowledge. Like all mystics, he trembled at 
the thought of the regresus in infinitum. Whence does 
man come? From the lower animal. Whence does the 
lower animal come? From the plant. Whence does the 
plant come? From matter. Whence does matter come? 
From the atom. But whence does the atom come, or the 


nebulae or the energy which created these first forms of 
inorganic life ? No one is able to answer these riddles. Em- 
piric science is satisfied merely with the recognition of 
the laws governing the phenomena of life. That, says 
Spinoza, is not real knowledge. Only intuitive rec- 
ognition can lead to true knowledge. Empiric knowl- 
edge based on analytical reasoning can only offer us an 
abstract picture of the combinations of the natural 
phenomena, but intuition reveals to us concretely the 
forces of nature and the qualities of natural beings. So 
convinced was Spinoza of the superiority of intuitive 
knowledge that he identified it with virtue. He con- 
sidered it the force in life which makes man truly happy. 
Neo-Spinozists like Schelling and Fichte, in spite of their 
great critical powers, held with Spinoza that only intel- 
lectual contemplation or inner experience can lead to 
true recognition. Only immediate knowledge, mystical 
knowledge, is true knowledge. Only by intuition can 
the individual make his contact with the absolute. This 
intuition is primarily feeling. But feeling is religion, not 

Spinoza was not a mystic in the ordinary sense of the 
term. As a rule mystics are unable to control their 
feelings, are lacking in form and in style, and are intel- 
lectually confused. Spinoza, however, is the very incar- 
nation of the clear and lucid mind. He was the only 
great mystic of history who could so master his feelings 
that he could express them in geometric terms. It is 
true that Spinoza's mind was sharpened by his early 
Talmudic and rabbinic training, but this alone does not 
explain his clarity and lucidity. Many great Talmudic 
scholars whose minds were equally deepened by mysti- 
cal feelings lost themselves emotionally and were unable 


to domesticate them. We must assume that before 
Spinoza formulated his conception of the relationship 
of God to the world, or of man to the absolute, there 
went on a terrible and an all-consuming struggle be- 
tween the two forces in his soul, reason and emotion. 
Only as a result of this inner struggle did he regain com- 
plete mastery over his emotions, so that he could press 
them into stiff and rigid geometric formulae. Like all 
mystics, Spinoza was convinced of his own truth, yet he 
was equally certain that he was a thinker and a philos- 
opher, not a religionist or mystic. He believed that he 
proved everything in such a simple manner that only 
those who hate truth would not perceive it. Yet, mysti- 
cism is his very starting-point. 

To be a Spinozist one must first be convinced of the 
primary truth, of the substance. However, not analyti- 
cal reasoning or empiric knowledge, but religious belief, 
will cause a man to accept Spinoza's doctrine of the 
substance. If his premise is accepted it is necessary to 
accept all of his other conclusions, but this is practically 
true of all primary religions. If one accepts a transcen- 
dental and an extramundane God, who created the world 
which He rules from without, one must also accept all 
the other consequences which spring from this God- 
doctrine. Only a mystic can accept Spinoza's substance, 
because it is not philosophy but mysticism. 

Other philosophers, too, have couched their mysticism 
in philosophical terms. Thus Schopenhauer can be said 
to have been a mystic, although instead of substance he 
speaks of will. The same is true of the so-called logos 
philosophy, which is mysticism rather than philosophy. 
Philosophy begins with reality, while mysticism begins 
with the absolute. There is not a gleam of mysticism in 


the great philosophical systems of the English philoso- 
phers, because their starting-point is reality. We can 
thus understand why Spinoza made such little headway 
in England during the heyday of its philosophy, in the 
days of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. But wherever, as in 
Germany, the human mind in modern times sought a 
direct contact with the absolute, Spinozism as a system 
of metaphysics became the potent force and reigned 

Pantheism was not invented by Spinoza, but was 
known to humanity for thousands of years. It was not 
the doctrine of Deus swe natura ("God equals nature") 
alone that secured for the lone Jew of Amsterdam fame 
and immortality. It was the form in which he expressed 
his pantheistic thought that made him the central figure 
of modern culture. The mathematical form of Spinoza 
which, as will be seen later, is more than a method, is a 
strange mixture of rationalism and mysticism. 

His denial of all teleology, of personality and self-con- 
sciousness, and the consequences following from this 
denial made him both the bone of contention and the 
source of inspiration to later generations. The meaning 
of Spinozism in modern culture cannot be understood by 
mere quotations from his books. It can only be appre- 
ciated from the individual features of his pantheism. To 
understand them requires a brief historical survey of the 
pantheistic doctrine since it was crystallized first in an- 
cient India and then in ancient Greece. 

Pantheism as a world-picture is the spiritual heritage 
of both the Eastern and the Western branches of the 
Aryan race. It reached Western Europe from these two 
sources. But while Eastern pantheism, as formulated 
in India, was mystical, Western pantheism, as created in 


Greece, was intellectual. The kindling point of Eastern 
pantheism was man's own self Atman while that of 
Western pantheism was in the outer world. But East- 
ern pantheism, although kindled in the self, was uni- 
versalistic, while Western pantheism, although kindled 
in the outside world the universe was individualistic. 
In the West man understood the phenomenon called 
life intellectually. Greek philosophical speculations be- 
gin with natural philosophy. One of the forces of nature, 
water, air, earth, or fire, was conceived to be the first 
cosmic principle. Aristotle only concludes the process 
of thought inaugurated by the early Greek natural phi- 
losophers. The only interruption in this process is 
Socrates. He delved in man's inner self as a reaction 
against Ionian naturalism. Like the old Hindu sages, he 
was more interested in man's soul than in the entire 
fabric of nature. He hated physics and loved meta- 

In ancient Greece pantheism was a conclusion; in an- 
cient India it was the starting-point. In the East man 
approached the great problems of life in the spirit of 
deep sadness and extreme gloom; in the West, with a 
feeling of joy and exuberance. Ancient Greece, despite 
the Greek tragedy with its morose spirit and pessimism, 
appears to us today as one great festivity, while ancient 
India appears as a house of mourning. 

The Eastern Aryan was overwhelmed with the phe- 
nomenon of death, sickness, pain, evil, and suffering, 
which determined his attitude to life. Buddha recog- 
nized in the sick, suffering beggar the apotheosis of life, 
and therefore concluded that it was wisest to escape 
from it. The ancient Hindu surrendered to the natural 
forces which he could not control: to the tropic heat 


which weakened his body, and to the rains and moisture 
which made his life miserable. He could not gird his 
loins and fight the struggle for existence with courage 
and fortitude. Life to him became a valley of tears, a 
veritable hell from which one must escape, at least in 
spirit. It has often been remarked that Buddha at- 
tempted to escape not only from life but also from death. 
We can thus understand his yearning for Nirvana, the 
happiness and silent calm of non-being and the joy of 
dissolution, known in the Vedanta under the term of 

In the West many outside factors made man's life 
more pleasant. A temperate climate and favorable top- 
ographical conditions enabled him to direct his energy 
to the best advantage. He was not awed by nature and 
could, therefore, take up the struggle for existence with 
the determination to conquer nature, and to improve 
upon life by regulating and regimenting it. He grew 
more virile, more enthusiastic, and increased his will to 
live. He developed a healthy individualism which 
found its most powerful expression in the Pantheon 
where frolicking gods and lovely goddesses reigned su- 
preme. With his mental equilibrium stabilized, the 
Western Aryan was more attracted by the joyous phe- 
nomena of birth, growth, life, virility, and genius. 
Eros and Aphrodite became his companions and partly 
determined his attitude toward life. The picture of the 
beautiful Helen, the symbol of beauty and birth, in- 
spired him with courage and joy. It made him capable 
of great deeds. 

Despite its many gods and goddesses, the people of 
ancient Hellas had a clear conception of an animated 
and unified world. The Greek formula for pantheism is 


En Kai Pan, the one and the whole, or one equals the 
whole, which summed up the pantheistic world-picture 
of the ancient Greeks. These are mystical and not 
philosophical words. 

The analogy to the En Kai Pan of the ancient Greeks 
is Tat Twan Asi of the ancient Hindus. The Hindus pic- 
tured, not an animated physical universe, but a spiritual 
cosmos. They found the relationship of Brahma to the 
world in the analogy of a clump of salt, which has nei- 
ther an inside nor an outside. While in ancient India 
as well as in ancient Greece the doctrine of the identity 
of God and the world was taught, each branch of the 
Aryan race gave it its own coloring. It is even a meta- 
physical cosmic principle which may be colored by its 
environment. Subjective mystical Eastern pantheism 
meant destiny to Ancient India, just as objective and 
intellectual pantheism spelled destiny to ancient Greece. 
In ancient India, where pantheism was born out of 
man's inner self, where it was a projection of man's self 
upon the world, it nearly destroyed man and under- 
mined the very basis of pragmatic civilization. It 
created a religiosity with Ananda and Nirvana as its goal. 
It created the feeling that man is a superfluous being, 
and that life is not worth living. Eastern pantheism 
made metaphysical thought man's central interest in 
life. Ancient Hindu pantheism, which later developed 
into atheism, showed man the way to self-destruction. 
In the West, on the other hand, this same doctrine of 
the identity of God and the world, which was not born 
in man's self, but recognized in the order prevailing in 
nature, had entirely different consequences. While mys- 
tical and subjective pantheism in the East became one 
great lamentation, intellectual and objective pantheism 


in the West developed into a song of joy. Instead of in- 
hibiting, reducing, and contracting life, it enhanced and 
enriched it and created the foundation for a solid civili- 
zation. In the East, pantheism produced theology and 
rituals ; in the West, science and art. Eastern pantheism 
is blind; it does not see images. Western pantheism 
looks with a thousand eyes upon a world full of variety. 
It is full of imagery and hence it is conducive to art. 
Western pantheism is hedonic in the same degree that 
Eastern is ascetic. In the East, the goal is either Anan- 
da or Nirvana; in the West, it is kalo kagaty the syn- 
thesis of the beautiful and the good. In the East, pan- 
theism, being universalistic, overcomes personality; in 
the West, pantheism enhances personality. Schopen- 
hauer noted that the mythology of Eastern and Western 
Aryans have a common root, but yet in the West the 
gods and goddesses are frolicking and are full of life and 
quarrels, and in the East they are mere shadows. In the 
West, pantheism is dynamic, in the East, static. In the 
East, where pantheism was created by the pensive and 
meditating soul, it is lyrical. In the West, where it was 
fashioned by the calculating and analyzing philosophi- 
cal mind, it is dramatic. 

Is Spinozism identical with Eastern or Western pan- 
theism, or is it a synthesis of both? This question could 
be easily answered were it not for the fact that Spinoza 
was not only a pantheist but also a monist. He stresses 
his monism, the en, to the same extent that he stresses 
his pan. In spite of his pantheism, he could never free 
himself entirely from certain monotheistic traditions. 
His approach to the problem of God is reminiscent of the 
Bible. The Bible begins with the sentence, "God creat- 
ed Heaven and Earth." Spinoza starts, "By the sub- 


stance, I understand that which is in itself." The one- 
ness of God is to Spinoza as fundamental and basic a 
doctrine as is his Deus sive natura. His theory of the 
oneness of God is not merely a metaphysical theory, but 
is a religious outpouring of the heart. It is pure mysti- 
cism. Although Spinoza's God has no intellect or will 
and, therefore, cannot be the recipient of love, Spinoza 
admonishes man to love God. This fact alone places 
Spinoza's God more in a direct contact with man than 
did the ancient Greek Nus or Logos, or the ancient Hin- 
du Brahma or Atman. His amor Dei, too, is reminiscent 
of the old biblical command, "Thou shalt love thy God 
with all thy heart/' "Heart" in Hebrew signifies both 
emotion and reason. "Give me the heart to under- 
stand," Solomon prays. Spinoza's Amor del intellec- 
tualis is, therefore, also ancient Hebrew religiosity, rem- 
iniscent of ancient Hebraic monotheism. But monothe- 
ism and pantheism mutually exclude each other. Both 
represent two opposite world-views which kindle in two 
different sources. Monotheism is transcendence, pan- 
theism immanence. Monotheism is not cosmocentric 
but anthropocentric. It kindles in the consciousness of 
man's dignity and man's own value. It leads to the 
deduction that although man is insignificant in compari- 
son to the forces of life and its immutable laws, he is 
still sufficiently important to take a position in life, to 
be active, and to work for a better future. Beginning 
with an appreciation of man's power, the feeling of his 
insignificance upon this small planet, which is erring in 
the infinite space, vanishes- He becomes ambitious to 
master and to enslave nature. Monotheism clearly as- 
signs a great task to man, which Hindu pantheism en- 
tirely denies to him. Monotheism focuses its attentions 


on the phenomenon of birth rather than of death, as is 
indicated by the story of the death of Moses on an iso- 
lated peak far removed from all men. It is glorious to be 
born; it is a disgrace to die. 

In contradistinction to the doctrine of the identity of 
God and the world, monotheism assumes that God and 
the world are not one, and that man is more than merely 
a part of nature. The man of the desert, who created 
monotheism, and who faced only infinite sand wastes 
and a blazing sun, saw nothing and heard nothing out- 
side of himself, because everything around him was 
dead. All that he felt was his own ego. In the end he 
recognized that he was something apart from these 
things. He concluded that he who created the sun, the 
desert, the sand, and himself was also a personality. It 
is, therefore, no stupid coincidence that the primary 
monotheistic proof for the existence of God as formu- 
lated in the Old Testament is not ontological but is cos- 
mological and ethical. 

Spinoza's pantheism is not free from many monothe- 
istic features in spite of the fact that they both exclude 
each other. It is this rare and strange bedfellowship of 
two mutually incompatible and contradicting world- 
pictures which makes Spinozism so complicated and 
difficult. However, since Spinoza was primarily a reli- 
gionist, it is not permissible to inquire into the contra- 
dictions in him. Religiosity enjoys the privilege of being 


The heirs to Spinozism in Germany Schelling, 
Fichte, and Hegel always mention Spinoza and Plato 
in one breath. They compared Spinoza with Plato, not 
because both have anything in common, but because 


both occupy the same position in the history of the 
mind. Plato was the central figure of ancient Greek 
philosophy, while Spinoza is the central figure of modern 
Western European philosophy. Although Plato and 
Spinoza represent two distinct and totally contradictory 
world-concepts, Spinoza's world-picture can be better 
understood when it is projected upon a Platonic back- 
ground. Even the personality of Spinoza can best be 
understood when compared with that of Plato. Plato 
was a wealthy man, an aristocrat; Spinoza was a ghetto- 
dweller, a lens-cutter, and a pauper. Plato was physi- 
cally robust and attained a ripe old age; Spinoza was 
physically frail and died of consumption at the age of 
forty-five. Plato was a great lover and was identified by 
the ancients with Dionysos, the God of wine, growth, 
and love. He was full of erotic prowess and a glorifier 
of life. Spinoza was a monk little interested either in 
women or in wine. The attempts of novelists to make 
him the hero of a romantic tale have no basis in reality. 
Plato begins his career as a poet and playwright, Spino- 
za as a student of dry rabbinics. Plato was an artist, 
Spinoza a geometrician. Plato was a seer and thought 
in terms of pictures. The most abstract matters quick- 
ened with life under his touch. Spinoza was a great for- 
mulator to whom even God became a formula. Plato, 
like the prophets of ancient Israel, was interested in 
man, and his central motive was ethics, which later was 
translated into politics. To him neither epistemology, 
mathematics, nor any science transcends in importance 
the science of man. His two major works, the Republic 
and the Laws, are primarily dedicated to man and his 
interests. To Spinoza, on the other hand, man is only 
one of the modi, an insignificant thing, almost a super- 


fluous being. Plato is primarily an ethicist with Soc- 
rates as his background. Spinoza is primarily a Salva- 
tionist, a follower of Buddha and St. Paul. Platonism 
is primarily sociology, Spinozism is mysticism. Plato 
was in love with this world and with this life. Spinoza, 
however, could have exclaimed, "This is not my world." 
To Plato the world of ideas appeared as the world of 
true reality, and the highest idea is the idea of the good. 
To Spinoza, on the other hand, only the effective cause 
is real being. It is the one substance which contains an 
infinite multitude of attributes. In the system of Plato 
the idea of good expresses the essence of Deity. In the 
system of Spinoza the substance equals God, who is the 
sum total of infinite attributes. To Plato the recogni- 
tion of good and evil is more important than all other 
forms of recognition combined. To him they are all ac- 
tually valueless without the recognition of good and 
evil. 1 To Spinoza good and evil are only relative con- 
ceptions, the product of human imagination. Plato 
affirms, but Spinoza denies, the ends. To Plato truth is 
only secondary in importance to good. a To Spinoza 
what is important is not the good, but the truth. Plato's 
wisdom presumes man, the ethical character. So intense- 
ly interested was he in man that he even would exclude 
certain types of humanity from philosophical instruc- 
tion. 3 

Plato expresses himself in allegories, similes, pictures, 
and images; Spinoza, in definitions and formulas. Pla- 
to's attempts to formulate and define are often vague 
and equivocal, but Spinoza's are always precise, con- 
crete, and geometric. Both Plato and Spinoza were 
seers, but the one saw living forms and the other geo- 

1 Charmentdes 174 O, D. a Phikbus 64 B. 3 Republic 486 B. 


metric figures. Hence, Spinoza appears to us as being as 
clear as crystal, while Plato's thought often seems vague 
and obscure. Yet Spinoza is much the more inconsistent 
of the two. From afar Plato impresses us as though he 
were dancing upon the clouds, but upon closer exami- 
nation one can readily see that he stands with both 
feet rooted in the earth. Spinoza, on the other hand, 
impresses us from a distance as being a hard-headed 
realist, but in reality he is the cloud walker. Plato says 
that thoughts must be seen with the eyes; ideas are 
merely visual recognizing. To Spinoza the dead geo- 
metric figure is the measure and standard of all truth. 
Plato, beginning with the living figure, with the Gestalt, 
in contradistinction to Spinoza's geometric figure, rec- 
ognizes the ends at once. To him the world appears as 
a realm of ends, while to Spinoza, with his geometric 
figures, the ends do not exist. Plato recognizes that the 
senses or, as he calls them, the "visible" reveal to us 
the multitudinousness of things, the manifoldness in the 
phenomena; while reason or what he calls the "invisi- 
ble" shows us the oneness of things, which is created 
by the idea, is the basis of all true knowledge. Without 
it neither knowledge nor experience is possible. The 
idea produces not so much logical definitions as visible 
pictures, creative onenesses. The physical eye alone be- 
holds confusion and chaos. Only with the aid of reason 
can it behold totalities, onenesses, Gestalten. He often 
describes the ideas as prophetic guesses, poetic inven- 
tions, eternal patterns, or original pictures; but no mat- 
ter what they may be, they are order-creating elements 
in a world of chaos. 

In Plato's theory of ideas there is no systematic pre- 
cision as there is in the theory of substance or in the 


attributes of Spinoza. Sometimes he believes them to 
be merely conclusions of the impressions of the senses, 
while at other times he conceives them to be something 
in and for themselves. Nothing of this type of thinking 
is to be found in Spinoza. He does not guess, he does 
not hesitate, he does not grope in the darkness. While 
Plato makes frantic efforts to establish some anchor 
ground from which he may find a contact with being, or 
consciousness, or the world, Spinoza begins with apre- 
dictic certainty. "By cause of itself I understand that 
those whose essence involves existence; or that whose 
nature cannot be conceived unless existing." To Spino- 
za being is something definite, something in itself. It 
is rigid, stark, stiff. Plato, however, thundered that 
one must not speak of being per se or permit others to 
speak of it, for being is only by, through, and in relation- 
ship to something else. To Spinoza the phenomena exist 
in themselves, but to Plato they are to be found only on 
the meeting ground of the reason and the senses. To 
Plato reason creates reality; to Spinoza, all reality 
emanates from God. 


Only two views of this world with all its phenomena 
have been advanced so far, namely, the idealistic, teleo- 
logical, and organic and the universalistic, naturalis- 
tic, and mechanical. Plato's background is Anaxagoros 
and introduces the nus y "fnind," as the force which 
shapes the world according to definite ends and pur- 
poses, while Socrates saw in man the final aim and pur- 
posefulness of the world. To Plato it is the ideas which 
shape life purposefully. He, the teleologist, understood 
that there is a sharp line of demarcation between the 
living and the non-living, between the organic and the 


mechanical. With regard to life which is always pur- 
poseful, he clings to the formula ex nihilo nihil est> "from 
nothing there is nothing." Only life can give birth to 
life; but life means figure, shape, and form as distin- 
guished from a machine. In the figure of a living being 
the whole is an organism which precedes the parts. In 
the mechanism the parts precede the whole and the 
sum is equal to its parts. In the organism the figure is 
cause and not effect; in the mechanism it is effect not 
cause. Since life is purposeful, the idea of the Gestalt 
involves the idea of purposes and ends. This does not 
mean that no individual process of life may be inter- 
preted mechanically. If such were the case, science 
would be impossible. It means, however, that life as a 
whole cannot be interpreted mechanically, for it is or- 
ganic, purposeful, and consists of living figures. 

Plato speaks of the ends and of organic life, while 
Spinoza emphasizes geometric figures, schemes, and me- 
chanics. Plato peers into life while Spinoza only looks 
at life. Therefore, Spinoza discovers life to be only a 
realm of immutable laws. Instead of Gestalt^ a living 
figure, he sees only rigid, geometric figures. Plato, on 
the other hand, looking into life, sees primarily ends 
and purposes and recognized truth only in the idea of 
the purposeful. To Spinoza all teleology is superstition 
and prejudice. "But all these prejudices/' Spinoza says, 
"which I here undertake to point out depend on this 
solely, that it is commonly supposed that all things in 
nature, like man, work to some end and indeed it is 
thought to be certain that God Himself directs all 
things to some sure end, for it is said that God has made 
all things for man, and man that he may worship God. 
This, therefore, I will first investigate by inquiring 


firstly why so many are naturally inclined to embrace it. 
I shall then show its falsity and finally that there has 
arisen from it prejudices concerning good and evil, 
merit and sin, praise and blame, order and disorder, 
beauty and deformity, etc." In this manner he goes on to 
show that all teleology is merely prejudice of the human 

It is an irony of fate that the so-called neo-Spinozists 
Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel rejected their master's 
mechanism and accepted Plato's teleology. Thus Fichte 
states that each organized product of nature is its own 
purpose. Schelling asserts that mechanism and tele- 
ology coincide, for purposefulness means independence of 
mechanism and coincidence of cause and effect. Hegel 
explains that the end is the idea of its own existence. 4 
In his Phenomenology of Mind he states that the teleo- 
logical moment belongs to the essence of the things. 

All teleology entails evolution, while all mechanism in- 
volves rigid being. Thus God is pure being. He is not 
subject to change, to becoming, to evolution. From this 
Spinoza deduces everything in the cosmos that stretches 
before man in infinite space and happens in infinite time. 
But to Plato there is no pure being in itself. The old 
Heraclitean theory that everything is in flux, and that 
one cannot even wade through the same river twice, 
makes every recognition impossible. How is knowledge 
possible since becoming, too, cannot be a source of rec- 
ognition. What we call "being," Plato states, has a 
share in our thinking and our ego, just as what we call 
"becoming" has a share in our perception. It is the task 
of thinking to bring changeable becoming to rest and to 
turn it into a definite figure. Only out of this synthesis 


does recognition arise. Since, according to Plato, man 
actually creates the world, it can be easily understood 
why man occupies such a prominent position in his 
philosophy. Reality is born in man's mind, and presup- 
poses and presumes man. It is man who creates the 
world. As against this subjectivism and idealism of 
Plato, Spinoza teaches, "By substance I understand 
that which is in itself and which is conceived through 
itself; in other words, that the conception of which does 
not need the conception of another thing from which it 
must be formed." Plato's world is thus born in man's 
mind and Spinoza's in God's mind. 

In asserting that the essence of things as produced by 
God does not involve existence, Spinoza explains that 
God is not only the cause of the commencement of the 
existence of things, but also of the continuation of their 
existence. In other words, God is the causa essendi re- 
rum and thus there is no active creation at alh Every- 
thing comes from God with mathematical mechanical 
necessity by mechanical evolvement, and not by a pro- 
cessual evolution. The historians of the philosophy of 
history ignore Spinoza, for from his system no philoso- 
phy of history can be deduced. Plato, on the other 
hand, making man the center of all things, has laid the 
foundation for a philosophy of history which, to the 
present day, is suggestive to all who meditate upon the 
historical subject. By wedding being to becoming 
through the instrumentality of man's mind, Plato 
creates the conditions of tension out of which a life- 
process arises. Not without good reason did the an- 
cients instinctively connect the name of Plato with the 
God of creation, love, and growth, for he has connected 
the idea of creation with the idea of beauty and immor- 


tality . In one of his dialogues he exclaims : "Love is not 
the love for a beautiful figure, but it is primarily some- 
thing potential. This is love for a figure to be created by 
the beautiful. The mortal figure harbors within him an 
immortal power, the power to create, and so love is relat- 
ed to immortality. One, to attain immortality, creates 
children, while others whose creative power is centered 
more in the soul than in the body create works of the 
mind; but there is nothing mechanical in this creative- 
ness. The stream of life comes and goes arithmetically, 
kindling in creativeness, beauty and love. Love is the 
connecting link between the mortal and the immortal be- 
cause it itself is both mortal and immortal. It is mortal 
because it is subject to change, decay and death, but it 
is immortal because it always rises again after having 
apparently been dead. It does not possess durable life of 
divine mortality over which death cannot spread its 
wings, but it does not share the fate and destiny of that 
which is final." 

To the extent that Plato's ideas are not logical cate- 
gorieSj or hypotheses, or something metaphysical, there 
is an unbridgeable abyss between the world of ideas and 
the world of senses; but the oneness-seeking Plato could 
not be satisfied with this dualism, with this permanent 
separation of both worlds, and he tries in many ways to 
link them together. The suggestion that the world of 
ideas and beauty unites itself with the world of senses, 
only to be separated from it, leaving in man's soul a 
deep longing, could never satisfy Plato, the poet and 
philosopher. He attempted to solve this problem by 
creating a teleological relationship between the world 
of ideas and the world of senses and thereby elevated 
the world of senses to a higher plane. There is also 


ideal beauty in the sensuous world, as can be seen in the 
beautiful figures and bodies of life which awaken in us 
love and longing. Just as the idea of the good enables 
us to recognize the objects of our thought, so does 
beauty reveal to us the oneness of the world. In many 
passages of his writings he actually identifies the idea of 
love with the cosmic principles from which he constructs 
a philosophy of history which is not only fascinating 
in its beauty but elating in its philosophical truth. 
Every world-outlook assumes that there is a real mean- 
ingful process of becoming which aspires to attain a cer- 
tain goal. Plato's doctrine of love as the cosmic princi- 
ple, which gives to the sensuous world a share in the 
divine and which causes the divine to assume sensuous 
forms from which emanate the highest forms of life, has 
established a basis for philosophic, historic meditations. 
There is in his doctrine an organic process of becoming, 
which is not to be confounded with the process of be- 
coming as formulated by Heraclitus, for the Platonic 
idea of becoming is filled with reality and elements of 
being and of eternity. There is thus a historical process 
instead of mechanical evolutions. 

"Thou shalt be like God," the author of Genesis 
warned man. Plato offered a similar program, but Spino- 
za, who does not start with man, could not say any- 
thing that was comforting to him. Man is a link in an 
infinite chain, a plaything of destiny, just one of the 
infinite modi, without any future, without even the 
possibility of redemption. His lord and master is the 
eternal, unchangeable, and immutable law the law of 
blind necessity. Man is a prisoner and can never be 

The Platonic world-picture produced by love, regu- 


lated by the idea and improved upon by the good, ne- 
cessitates logics, ethics, and aesthetics. Spinoza's world, 
mathematized, deadened, and mechanized, precludes all 
of them. It is bereft of reason, goodness, and beauty, 
and is even much gloomier than the world of Buddha. 
That seer at least dangled before man's eye the future 
joy of Nirvana, the happy state of complete dissolution, 
of non-being. He gave man some hope, the hope of over- 
coming himself, the hope of detaching himself from a 
world of sin to which he was wedded in this material 
world; but Spinoza even fails to offer him such a ques- 
tionable joy. 

If every system of philosophy is a confession of the 
soul, then Plato's philosophy is a confession of hope and 
Spinoza's a confession of despair. The Greek freeman, 
Plato, looked at the world and recognized in it a play of 
free forces. Spinoza, the fugitive of the Spanish Inquisi- 
tion and haunted Jew, looked at the world and discov- 
ered in it a prison of the Inquisition, in which man is 
handled by forces over which he has no control. Plato's 
philosophy has all the earmarks of the free, life-loving 
and life-enjoying Helen; the philosophy of Spinoza has 
all the earmarks of the prison of the Inquisition in 
which there is no hope and no future. 


The mystic is neither prophet nor philosopher. He 
is too a-social to be a prophet and too much concerned 
with establishing a contact with the absolute to be a 
philosopher. To a mystic the absolute, whether it be 
God, spirit, or ego, is always infinite, imageless, and in- 
determinate. To him the world of the senses is merely a 
passing shadow and an insignificant dream. His Deity is 


remote from reality and has no connection with it. 
Spinoza's substance has all the characteristics of the 
God of the mystics. Thus Spinoza's general theory of 
knowledge is not the most characteristic feature of his 
system, for it neither begins with nor ends with knowl- 
edge. It begins and ends with a mystical hypothesis. 
Despite his mystical starting-point, Spinoza, particu- 
larly in France, has been considered to be merely a dis- 
ciple of the Western Descartes. However, even a super- 
ficial comparison of the epistemology of the two will 
prove convincingly that Spinoza is as far from being a 
Cartesian as he is from being a Platonist. Descartes 
aspired to establish a solid foundation for a theory of 
knowledge, which would be valid for all succeeding gen- 
erations. Intellectual certainty and clear and adequate 
recognition were his goal. At the very beginning he 
wrested from his mind a criterion of truth, which he 
found in self-consciousness. His cogito ergo sum, CC I think, 
therefore I am," is a tremor of ancient Platonism in a 
modern world. Descartes, too, was convinced that 
man's mind is creative of reality. However, he was not 
only a theoretician incased in epistemological formula, 
but was also concerned with religion. But, being pri- 
marily a philosopher, he began with philosophy and 
concluded with religion. God is both the conclusion and 
the peak of his system. Spinoza's starting-point, however, 
is Descartes's conclusion. From the very beginning he 
yearned only for intuitive knowledge in order to make 
a direct and immediate contact with the absolute. His 
goal was salvation, beatitude, and spiritual happiness 
rather than empiric knowledge and intellectual security. 
Such knowledge springs forth only from an immediate 
revelation of the object, God. Such is his earlier theory 


of knowledge as formulated in his Short Tractate on Man, 
God and Salvation. It was this thirst for immediate 
knowledge, the knowledge of God, that earned for 
Spinoza the meaningful title, the "God-intoxicated 

It is thus evident that Spinoza's approach to the 
problem of God does not resemble that of any other 
major philosopher of the West. His Short Tractate is 
reminiscent of ancient Eastern mysticism in which, too, 
God alone is reality. This identity of God and reality 
makes the possibility of science highly problematical, 
because man's relative mind cannot penetrate into the 
mysteries of the absolute. 

To Descartes self-consciousness and to Spinoza God- 
consciousness were the sources of all knowledge. How- 
ever, if God-consciousness is the standard test of all 
certainty, then knowledge must always remain passive, 
fixed, and eternal. It can be neither elevated nor de- 
graded. It comes to man from without and overwhelms 
him. Not mind but the absolute, not man but the ob- 
ject, creates reality. Not "I think," but "it thinks in 
me"; not "I feel," but "it feels in me," are his epistemo- 
logical formulae. The intellect, like will and feeling, is 
deprived of all freedom. 

It is interesting to note that clear-thinking pantheists 
like Goethe, who rej ected monotheism because they could 
not imagine a God who moves the world from without, 
accepted Spinoza's identification of God and reality. 
However, Goethe was a poet and as such had his own 
logic, which logic fails to understand. 

The vexing problem in all major philosophical systems 
is the correlation of the realm of being to the realm of 
thinking. This problem does not arise for Spinoza, for 


his realm of being is identical with his realm of thinking. 
In his Short Tractate he merely states that the two attri- 
butes, extension and thinking, are two different expres- 
sions of the same substance. If being and thinking are 
identical and the former is governed by the laws of ne- 
cessity, then there can be neither truth nor falsehood, 
since all things are fixed and necessary from eternity to 

Friednch Nietzsche, who praised Spinoza for his re- 
jection of teleology, could equally well have praised him 
for his rejection of truth and falsehood. Spinoza says 
that so long as w$ do not cling to a fragment of being, 
no error or falsehood is possible. Truth is the recogni- 
tion of the whole, while error or falsehood is the recog- 
nition of only a portion of the whole. Empiric knowl- 
edge is knowledge only of the fragments, while intuitive 
knowledge, which is more to be visualized than con- 
ceived, is a knowledge of the whole. Spinoza shares this 
theory of knowledge with all great mystics. 

Descartes, too, speaks of intuitive knowledge, but to 
him it is a geometric or arithmetic axiom which forms 
the basis of science. But to Spinoza, who by his more 
geometrico mathematized God, the world and man, in- 
tuitive knowledge is only the infinite divine being with 
which the human mind is to fill itself. To Spinoza, the 
mathematician, intuition is something mystical, while 
to Descartes, the religionist, it is mathematical. 

Spinoza, like all mystics, begins with the knowledge 
of God and with God-consciousness and ends with amor 
Dei. But this God is dead. How can man love a God 
who has neither will, nor intellect, nor feeling; who can- 
not choose or determine, punish or reward? Spinoza's 
amor Dei is not a postulate of knowledge, but is a mysti- 


cal vision, analogous to Buddha's doctrine of Nirvana, 
which he formulates as a union of the soul with the 
Absolute (Brahma). This conception is indissolubly 
connected with the theory that man is a slave of nature 
or of God. He is thus in a state of bondage, from which 
only amor Dei can redeem him. 

A philosopher who begins with God-consciousness and 
ends with amor Dei thereby evades the problem of 
knowledge. Descartes, however, who begins Platoni- 
cally, gives an adequate answer to this problem, thereby 
making modern science possible. Therefore, to consider 
Spinoza a disciple of Descartes is as logical as to consid- 
er mysticism the daughter of mathematics. 


In his Short Tractate Spinoza gives a general outline 
of his doctrine. Had he been known, however, only as 
the author of this work, his position in modern history 
would be no different from that of any other mystic. 
He develops here a theory of determinism, which pos- 
sesses all the characteristics of Eastern mysticism. It 
could not have escaped him that this doctrine would not 
be acceptable to philosophically minded men. There- 
fore, in his next treatise, On the Improvement of the 
Human Mind, a title symbolic of the progress Spinoza 
made since he wrote the Short Tractate, he developed a 
modified theory of knowledge and recognition. Here, 
too, he is concerned with how to attain the highest good. 
In developing this view he paints a sombre picture of 
daily reality, and attempts to show that the good to 
which the average man aspires is only an optic illusion. 
Certain passages of this work read like the lamentation 
of an old Hindu mystic. Every joy gives birth to suffer- 


ing, every desire is the cause of another desire, every 
lust turns into depression. Man's life appears like an 
immense wheel, an eternal cycle of meaningless move- 
ments, which leads nowhere. This aimless movement 
cannot be the purpose of life, nor can it secure to man 
salvation and happiness. Only eternal being, which is 
perfect in itself and requires nothing else for its cause or 
support, can offer security to man's mind. The very 
thought of this state of being is likely to cool our pas- 
sions, to cause us to collect our thoughts, and to make 
peace with ourselves and with the world. What is this 
being? It is that oneness which unites the spirit with the 
realm of nature, which is ruled by eternal and immuta- 
ble laws to which we must subject ourselves. 

While Spinoza describes man's goal in similar fashion 
in his first two works, he adopts a different point of view 
in his Second Tractate, as to how to attain this goal. At 
first he described man as the slave of God and as a pas- 
sive onlooker, whose movements are directed from with- 
out. Later he showed that man's happiness is no longer 
dependent entirely upon objective forces, but that he 
harbors in his own mind the possibilities of happiness 
and salvation, which he can acquire slowly and method- 
ically. He shows that truth and the highest idea can 
become the source of all other knowledge. 

Such a view presupposes a totally different conception 
of truth, error, and recognition from that of the first 
tractate. Recognition is no longer passive, nor are truth 
and error dependent upon external factors, but upon the 
force and nature of the intellect itself. The objects of 
mathematical recognition furnish the best proof of this 
assertion. Geometric figures testify to absolute truth, 
although they are independent of and can ignore reality. 


Truth can thus no longer be attained by perceiving the 
processes of the outer world, but by the mind's conceiv- 
ing the infinite totality of things. The mind thus be- 
comes an active agent. The starting-point of all meta- 
physics, therefore, can only be sought in the recognition 
of that which represents the form of truth itself. Once 
this recognition is acquired, we can deduce additional 
truths and thus arrive at the conception of an eternal 
order of things. Thus, Spinoza's starting-point here is 
not an objective force but the intellect itself. By turn- 
ing from the objective to the subjective world, he partly 
turns from mysticism and salvationism to philosophy and 
knowledge. Although he finally attains a philosophical 
starting-point, he yet persists in rejecting empiric truth, 
which he holds to be only inadequate knowledge. Only 
synthetic knowledge, which begins with the simple ele- 
ments which it combines in a definite manner, is true 
knowledge. The mind can understand completely only 
what is born out of the human mind in this fashion. 

While Spinoza appears to have become a subjectivist, 
he does not fail to emphasize the fact that the order of 
things described above is not an order of thinking, but 
an order of being. The ideas must be so connected that 
man's mind reproduces the totality as well as the par- 
ticulars of nature; yet this mind in progressing from the 
recognition of cause to effect is not determined by some- 
thing outside of it, but by its own logical law. With 
this theory of mind and knowledge, Spinoza attains his 
main purpose, the dissolution of the ramified parts of 
real being into a system of necessary actual intellect. 
Cause and reason, or reality and recognition, are thus 
made identical. This identity is not a combination of 
the idea of physical cause and effect, but the absorption 


of the idea of physical cause by mathematics. He vis- 
ualizes mathematics, not in the light of analysis, but in 
the light of geometry, which to him is only a synthetic 
science of figures and images. To him mathematical 
objects are the very incarnation of the eternal and also 
creative things. Only the primary definitions are eter- 
nal, for they are deduced from being. Secondary or 
tertiary deductions, however, are already created. Thus 
mathematics in the hands of Spinoza became something 
different from what is was to all of his contemporaries 
and predecessors. 

By thus identifying true knowledge with mathemat- 
ics, one can understand Spinoza's suspicion of empiric 
knowledge. To him it is undetermined, passive, reach- 
ing the mind from without, from hearsay, or from the 
senses. Such knowledge can only be imaginary. Only 
when individual things can be subordinated to a general 
and immutable law, as in mathematics, can they become 
objects of knowledge. 

The highest type of knowledge, however, is not syn- 
thetic but intuitive, because instead of deducing the 
particular from the general it visualizes both of them 
simultaneously. By this type of knowledge one gains a 
complete conspectus of reality without isolating from it 
the principles of being. Everything thus becomes visi- 
ble from the point of view of eternity, for it is not con- 
cerned with parts and particles, but with the whole of 
reality as it is governed by eternal and immutable laws. 
Because man cannot possibly follow the changeable 
particulars, for they transcend his powers and capabili- 
ties and because he need not know all the particular 
things in life, intuitive knowledge is not only the 
highest but the most useful type of knowledge. Through 


it he can grasp the eternal laws and deduce from them 
everything within his purview. This is the most eco- 
nomic type of thinking. What Spinoza proposes here 
can be reduced to this: instead of inquiring into the na- 
ture of the phenomena of motion, that is to say, in the 
nature of the physical world, and thus accumulate em- 
pirical knowledge which is inadequate and which can 
never mirror truth, we had better study the nature of 
motion itself, which is uniform and permanent, and pro- 
ceed to deduce from it the particular things. Just as we 
must turn our attention to the oneness of things, so 
must we study the passions and the particulars of the 
mind from its oneness. To obtain pure a priori knowl- 
edge, we must attempt to realize the ideal of pure de- 
duction. Rather than study every tree in the forest, let 
us study the forest itself, because it is easier and more 
economical to do so. 

It did not occur to the universalist Spinoza that every 
individual not only represents the specie but is a world 
unto himself. Therefore, the knowledge of the specie, 
while very useful, is not the only knowledge that we wish 
to possess. Biology, for instance, would be cut off from 
the possibility of development were we to accept Spino- 
za's theory of knowledge, for not only the specie as 
such, but every individual of the specie, reacts in a dif- 
ferent manner to a given phenomenon. The very first 
law of physiology is that every individual is governed by 
laws adequate to his personality. Therefore, physiologi- 
cal knowledge of the laws governing man as a specie 
would be of little use to medicine. What is true of phys- 
iology is also true of psychology, and of many other 
branches of knowledge. 

Those who are familiar with the prevailing epistemo- 


logical tendencies of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies will recognize in the "Cartesian" Spinoza a full- 
fledged adherent not of Descartes but of Hobbes. His 
theory of the genetic definitions, which is so vital to the 
whole system of Spinoza, he practically borrowed from 
Hobbes, just as he appropriated from Bacon the terms 
of natura naturans and natura naturata. Hobbes, too, 
stresses the doctrine that we can only conceive that 
which has been created by our own minds. Not only 
mathematical but all other sciences can be acquired only 
by deduction. Only the principles conceived in our own 
minds, and not outside impressions or experiences, can 
become the basis of knowledge. In this manner, not 
only mathematics, but also the social sciences, can be 
reduced to a priori sciences, for just as our minds create 
the principles of geometry, so they create the principles 
of law and social organization. 

Together with Hobbes, Spinoza recognized in geom- 
etry the prototype of all true knowledge. This agree- 
ment, however, does not necessarily mean that both 
men had the same philosophical aim in view. Hobbes 
wished to arrive at empiric reality by the way of deduc- 
tive knowledge. He was not concerned with God and 
His attributes, or with any other problems of theology. 
To him deductive knowledge was only a method and of 
relative value. Born in man's mind, it cannot possess 
the validity of eternal laws, but only a relative validity. 

Spinoza presents the opposite point of view. To him 
the ontologist, the idea itself, bears witness to its abso- 
lute truth and objective necessity. While it is true that 
the highest idea, the idea of God, or the substance can- 
not be explained geometrically, such an explanation is 
superfluous because in it idea and being, essence and 


existence, are united. It is thus evident that in so far 
as Spinoza's theory of knowledge is traceable to any 
man, this man is not Descartes but Hobbes. 


The philosopher seeks truth, the religionist salvation 
and happiness. Baruch Spinoza sought salvation, which 
he found in God. In religion God is the starting-point; 
in philosophy and science the conclusion. Spinoza be- 
gins his main opus with God and concludes it with God's 
love. His a priori affirmation implies a denial of the 
world and of life. His very acceptance of God is condi- 
tioned upon the rejection of earthly values and pleas- 
ures. This approach distinguishes him from all other 
Western philosophers, and through it he reveals himself 
as a true religionist and mystic. Yet this salvation- 
seeking mystic, far from sermonizing God, mathema- 
tized Him. 

Already in his Improvement of the Human Understand- 
ing he is convinced that he has proved that the mathe- 
matical approach is the only true avenue to philosophi- 
cal inquiry. Like all true mystics, he has but little re- 
spect for empiric or historic knowledge. To him even an 
assertion such as "I shall die" is only vague experience. 
True knowledge can be visualized only from the point 
of view of eternity, and cannot be acquired empirically. 
Spinoza sees things not in their eternal organic growth, 
but merely in their eternal mechanical order. 

To Spinoza the basis of genuine knowledge is our in- 
nate capability of recognition. Mathematical knowl- 
edge is the only valid knowledge, because it alone con- 
tains a system of apodictic truth. Really to recognize 
things is to see them in their necessary sequence, the 


cause which brings them forth and the ground from 
which they follow. Only when premise and conclusion 
coincide is true recognition produced. Mathematics is 
the only science that follows the method of deduction 
and synthesis. It deduces from the general and simple 
to the particular and composite. In following this meth- 
od we must by necessity arrive at the first and final 
principle which harbors in itself everything deducible. 
Only then can we explain all phenomena with mathemat- 
ical precision and clarity, for we will understand that 
whatever is, is so by mathematical mechanical neces- 

Many historians of philosophy have attempted to ex- 
plain Spinoza's mathematical approach to God and sal- 
vation by arguing that he, like the men of his generation, 
thought more geometrico, which was a reaction against 
the more scholastico of the Middle Ages. However, it 
was actually the religionism and salvationism of Spino- 
za that made the mathematical method indispensable to 
his system. Every true religionist is convinced of his 
own truth, but every true philosopher is always some- 
what skeptical of even those truths of which he is most 
deeply convinced. Skepticism was as strange to Spino- 
za's mind as it was to any other religionist. Yet the 
religionist Spinoza sought to fortify the doctrine of 
whose truth he was undyingly convinced with an im- 
pregnable proof, which he believed to have found in the 
mathematical method. He expressed his religious truth 
not in symbols or similes, but in geometric definitions 
and axioms. 

If additional proof were needed to show that Spinoza 
was basically a religionist, it can be found in the fact 
that his, unlike other major systems of philosophy, was 


not developed through evolutionary stages, but was con- 
ceived as a mature entity. His basic pantheistic doc- 
trine was already fixed and formulated in his Short 
Tractate, and was merely expanded in his Ethica. The 
only development of his original doctrine in his main 
opus is to be found primarily in its form, the geometric 
method. This method was chosen in the belief that it 
would make his mystical theory invulnerable to all in- 
tellectual attacks. But in this he gravely erred. 

The mathematical approach to the world of spirit 
contradicts the very nature of religiosity, salvation, and 
mysticism. Mathematics and religion make strange bed- 
fellows, for the spirit of religion is the spirit of freedom, 
while the spirit of mathematics is that of necessity. Yet 
the religionist Spinoza overlooked this incongruity. 
Spinoza's prestige and influence have been greatly en- 
hanced because he has been considered to be the philos- 
opher who most successfully has applied mathematics to 
philosophy. But this application was illogical and arti- 
ficial, for not only mathematics and religion, but also 
mathematics and philosophy, have nothing in common. 
Critical philosophy has always rejected the mathemati- 
cal method, 5 because mathematics can construe its own 

5 Spinoza's mathematical method has often been investigated and found unten- 
able and full of inner contradictions. The chapter on Spinoza m Johann Julius 
Baumann's still readable book, Die Lekren von Raum, Zeit und Mathematik in der 
neuen Philosophic (Berlin, 1868), is to the present day the best analytical and critical 
comment on the subject. Baumann laid bare nearly every axiom of Spinoza's 
Ethics, and demonstrated its artificiality and untenabihty. He concludes that Spino- 
za either violates the very spirit and the rules of mathematics or loses himself in 
gross contradictions. Baumann sums up the chapter by saying that besides the gross 
logical errors of Spinoza's system, and the false and misleading analogies from 
mathematics, there are to be found in Spinoza's method such errors that not only 
the demonstrations but also the axioms become questionable (did., I, 234). 

Cassius J. Keyser, the author of Mathematical Philosophy and an admirer of 
Spinoza, also admits that Spinoza's mathematical method is one grand failure, but 
takes consolation in the fact that "illustrious failures fall to the lot of none but 
illustrious men" (ibid., p. 36). 


terms, which philosophy cannot do. A philosophical 
term, proposition, or idea is restricted to certain bounds, 
and may be subject to certain historical changes and 
developments. In logics a positive assertion excludes 
everything else, for every affirmation is at the same time 
a negation. A geometric figure, however, although it is 
rigid in form, is rich in limitless possibilities. A fertile 
geometric mind may, by drawing certain lines within a 
circle or square, discover in it certain new fundamental 
mathematical laws. If the mathematical method were 
applicable to philosophy, it should be equally applicable 
to biological sciences. But since organic life is not sub- 
ject to measurement, its problems cannot be solved by 
the geometric method. 

To the chemist life begins with the atom. He is pri- 
marily concerned with an inorganic, dead, and rigid na- 
ture, which is governed by mathematical mechanical 
laws. He numbers the elements formalistically and de- 
scribes their operations and effects. Although inorganic 
nature is subject to single, rigid, and immutable laws, 
their totality cannot always be explained by the laws of 
cause and effect. While inorganic nature is in its indi- 
vidual phenomena subject to measurement, organic na- 
ture and particularly the realm of man is not. No 
two events in human life occur in exactly the same man- 
ner. Human history is not subject to the laws estab- 
lished by experiment, for it cannot be observed, weighed, 
measured, or reconstructed in the laboratory. It can- 
not be pressed into a definite, given formula. How this 
life moves can be seen by the genius with his intuitive 
eye, but not by the scientist with his analytical mind. 
Spinoza, however, attempts to visualize mathematically 
the totality of life after the fashion of the scientist, who 


deals only with one department of inorganic nature. 
Vision and formula, however, are diametrically opposed 
to and mutually exclude each other, for the formulater 
or experimenter need not see or visualize but must only 
observe the results of his experiments. Therefore, Spi- 
noza's mathematical approach to the problem of God 
and man is strange in the annals of philosophical think- 

Mathematics is concerned with externalities, while re- 
ligion busies itself with inner processes. All geometry, 
chemistry, physics, and biology are concerned with sur- 
faces, which they observe from different points of view. 
They look at life from the fagade and study its outer 
structure and component parts. Seers and artists, how- 
ever, look beyond the facade. Their vision is horizon- 
tal, not vertical, for they raise their eye so that they can 
see above and beyond the fagade and can visualize at 
one sweep the totality of life. To enable the analytically 
minded man to see as much of life as possible, he must 
sharpen his eye so that he can recognize reality. This 
is the purpose of all philosophical theories of knowledge. 
Spinoza, the religionist, the visionary, and the seer, in- 
stead of beholding the whole of the scene and seeing 
what is beyond and above the wall, looked only at the 
blank wall itself. In this he is like the curious country- 
man who eagerly attends an execution and stands out- 
side the prison walls while the execution takes place 
within. All he sees is a blank brick surface. 

After the mathematician solves a given problem, he 
leaves no room for further questions. Spinoza, with his 
mathematical approach to the problem of being, had to 
follow a given procedure, which even his most ardent 
disciples admit he failed to do. Often he fails to bridge 


wide gaps; often he contradicts himself and leaves fun- 
damentals unexplained. The seer, however, does not 
pretend to solve his problems in as absolute a manner 
as the mathematician or scientist. He understands that 
his eye is only that of a puny mortal. He knows that 
there is something in life that the human eye cannot be- 
hold at all, and which can be seen only by his inner eye. 

Spinoza had an inner vision of the whole of the exter- 
nal world, which he attempted to express in mathemati- 
cal terms. But the world visualized by the mystic eye 
cannot be measured or weighed, for it is a lyrical out- 
pouring of the soul. The attempt to translate lyricism 
into mathematics was doomed from its very inception: 
It is a strange paradox that so penetrating a mind as 
Spinoza's failed to observe this simple truism. 

Spinoza, by applying mathematics to philosophy, 
demonstrated his eagerness to attain apodictic truth. 
Yet the generation of thinkers succeeding him, from 
empiricists to idealists, were agitated by the question 
whether or not geometry did furnish that type of truth. 
Thus John Stuart Mill considered logics, arithmetics, 
and geometry to be empirical sciences, because he said 
their content is furnished by the 'senses. To him the 
mathematical axioms are merely a summary of sensual 
perceptions. Some of the most penetrating scientific 
minds of modern times, such as Helmholz, Rieman, 
Mach, Poincare, and Ostwald, stressed the empiric char- 
acter of geometry. To them the mathematical laws are 
either abstractions from experience or ideas born out 
of experience, or pacts guided by experience. Ostwald 
says that mathematics, far from being apodictic, must, 
on the contrary, be considered to be an arbitrary crea- 
tion of the human mind. 


Just as Spinoza's application of mathematics to phi- 
losophy was faulty, so was his mathematical procedure 
of dubious character. In his main opus, Ethics, which 
he says is "ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata" ("ethics 
demonstrated in geometric order"), he violates all the 
laws of geometry and heaps tautology upon tautology. 
Thus proposition 7 of the first part of the Ethics says, 
"It pertains to the nature of the substance to exist/' and 
the demonstration is, "There is nothing by which sub- 
stance can be produced. It will, therefore, be the cause 
of itself; that is to say, its essence necessarily involves 
existence; or, in other words, it pertains to its nature to 
exist." Is this geometry, and does this prove anything? 
If the substance cannot be proved by something else, it 
need not necessarily be its own cause, for it need not 
necessarily be at all. 

Proposition 2 of the same part of the Ethics says, 
"Two substances having different attributes have noth- 
ing in common with one another." This, he asserts, be- 
comes evident from definition 3, which reads, "By sub- 
stance I understand that which is in itself and is con- 
ceived through itself; in other words, that the concep- 
tion of which does not need the conception of another 
thing from which it must be formed." But definition 3, 
which is to prove proposition 2, says exactly the same 
thing. "Two substances having different attributes 
have nothing in common with one another. 

Proposition 3 of the first book of the Ethics says that 
"if two things have nothing in common with one an- 
other, one cannot be the cause of the other." This is 
proved by axioms 4 and 5, which repeat exactly the same 

A demonstration which adds nothing to the proposi- 


tion or to the definition is not geometry but tautology. 
Whatever truth there may be to Spinoza's propositions 
is very seldom proved by his demonstrations. In geom- 
etry it is not the idea alone, but the accompanying 
figure which is used to develop a new content. Spinoza 
cannot emulate this method, for his definitions, propo- 
sitions, axioms, and demonstrations are very limited 
in scope since they are not accompanied by geometric 

Spinoza also violates the laws of logics in attempting 
to apply mathematics to philosophy. One of the funda- 
mental laws of logics governing the definition is that it 
must not be tautological, or merely identical with the 
general characterization, but specific and definite. Spi- 
noza's axioms clearly violate this law. An axiom is, as 
the Stoics already understood it, a clear assertion. If 
we admit with Kant that the axioms are "synthetic a 
priori, in so far as they are immediately certain," then 
surely Spinoza's axioms are not axioms at all, for they 
fail to furnish that immediate certainty they presume 
to supply. In his Metaphysical Thoughts, Spinoza tries 
to make it clear that the idea of the ends, or of time, or 
of number and measure, are purely human and relative 
in character. They are pure anthropomorphisms, yet 
geometry, which involves the idea of measure, is used by 
Spinoza as the source of apodictic truth. If he were to 
agree with Hermann Cohen that measure is a category, 
his attempt would be understandable. However, his 
theory of measure and number contradicts that of all 
idealistic and critical philosophers. Thus he uses both 
conflicting theories at the same time. Either the one or 
the other theory must be false. Hence, from whichever 
point of view we consider his mathematical method, 


whether from the purely logical or from the purely 
pragmatic vantage point, it is not applicable to philos- 

Spinoza's system in its final form is preceded by defini- 
tions and axioms. Human thought, however, is not 
space and can be even less mathematized than biological 
nature. The spontaneity of the human mind scorns 
mathemarization. If life and thought could be mathe- 
matized, science and philosophy would then depend 
only upon technical skill and not upon creative genius. 
Human thought consists largely of postulates, which are 
strange to mathematics. Therefore, since philosophy 
cannot deduce from spacial figures, not having space as 
an object of study, it cannot validly apply the geometric 
method. Consequently all the major philosophers of 
modern times have discarded this approach. While the 
dialectic method of Hegel also largely consists of un- 
founded presumptions, hairsplittings, and mental de- 
ductions, it still is preferable to and is much more valid 
than the geometric method. Philosophy more geome- 
trico condemns creative philosophy to sterility. 

Unwittingly Spinoza often transgresses the limitations 
which the geometric method imposed upon him. Al- 
though he deals with mathematical terms and geomet- 
ric formulae, he, in order to express himself completely, 
introduces non-mathematical terms drawn from the em- 
piric world. Thus instead of geometrizing his thought, 
he in fact degeometnzes it. His method resolves itself 
into a series of syllogisms, tautologies, and contradic- 

Spinoza, that pious soul, was animated by a much 
finer idealism than can be discovered in his Ethics, but 
his mathematization of man destroyed ethics. Thus he 


ascribed to all creatures a desire for self-preservation, 
from which he deduces his utilitarian and selfish ethics. 
It need not be proved that he arrived at these axioms 
not by deductive but by inductive thinking, founded 
upon empirical knowledge which he rejects. It can easi- 
ly be imagined that Spinoza's evaluation of man reflects 
his experience with them. Instead of evaluating man 
subjectively, he merely geometrizes his experiences. 
Hence, his negative attitude to man could not remain 
the mood of a lonely thinker, but was elevated to an 
eternal geometric truth, which in turn formed the basis 
of his Ethics. So has Spinoza's mathematical method 
impaired not only his theory of knowledge but also his 
ethics. By attempting to chain the free human mind, 
he almost succeeded in sterilizing it. 


Baruch Spinoza, the God-intoxicated Jew, who could 
not free himself entirely from the traditions of his race, 
opens the presentation of his system with God or sub- 
stance, which he develops into the central theme of his 
theory. As a substance theoretician he is a typical 
seventeenth-century philosopher. He aims to explain a 
world which is not dependent upon a personal and con- 
scious supreme being 6 towering high in the sky or 
perched somewhere outside of the universe. He as- 
pired to perceive the order of things in this life as a 
"manifestation" of one ultimate cause, which by its 
very nature must be considered absolutely necessary 
and whose very being already implies its existence. 
This ultimate reality, substance, God, or nature, is all 
embracing and all inclusive the indeterminate, abso- 

6 See pp. 374-76. 


lute being. As such it can be only one, for if these were 
two substances the one would already be limited by the 
other and would not be absolute. With such a program 
it was methodically proper for him to begin with the 
idea of God, and to make it the very starting-point of 
his system. He could not possibly follow the naturalis- 
tic or the idealistic method, because the one never leads 
to any God-concept, while the other postulates it only 
as a conclusion. But Spinoza, who says that everything 
is in God, must begin with God. The presumption in 
this case necessitates the method. 

Spinoza opens his Ethics with eight fundamental defi- 
nitions, the first of which reads as follows: "By cause of 
itself I understand that whose essence involves existence, 
or that whose nature cannot be conceived unless ex- 
isting." This definition, queer and bizarre as it may 
seem to be, is the very backbone of his entire system. 
As such, however, it is much less original than most 
Spinoza scholars believe it to be, for it is essentially an 
old weapon taken from the arsenal of medieval Christian 
religious philosophy. The great English cleric, Anselm 
of Canterbury, who lived in the eleventh century and 
who was primarily interested in the strengthening of the 
faith of the church and not in philosophical truth, ac- 
tually intimated as much in his ontological proof of God 
when he exclaimed: "We have an idea of being of the 
highest of which we can think/' The resemblance of this 
famous proof for the existence of God with that of Spi- 
noza testifies to the religious motives of Spinozism. 

The pious soul knows of God and of His existence. 
Yet what does he know about God? Not the knowledge 
of His mere existence, but that of His essence is the 
source of inspiration of His religiosity. This was es- 


pecially true of Protestant and Old Testament religios- 
ity. It was also one of the major problems with which 
Spinoza grappled. The only solution he offered was that 
substance or God is free from every kind of limitation 
and determinateness. God cannot possibly be described 
by an idea, notion, or term derived from the world of 
finalities, for no matter how all embracing this term, 
idea, or notion may be, it would still contain a determi- 
nation and hence a limitation. But the absoluteness of 
God precludes every limitation. Hence God cannot pos- 
sess any attributes which theology may ascribe to Him. 
It should be clearly understood that the attributes of 
the God of Spinoza are not identical with the attributes 
of the God of theology. 

Spinoza's conception of God or substance makes, upon 
first acquaintance, an impression of substantiality and 
content. However, when he says of substance that it is 
"that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; 
in other words, the conception of which does not need 
the conception of another thing from which it must be 
formed," one becomes convinced that it is actually de- 
void of any definite content. Being the cause of itself 
and without any determinateness, this substance is free 
from all tension and from creative sources. It is not 
only removed from, but is actually devoid of, every real- 
ity. Many Spinozists have claimed that Spinoza's God 
resembles that of Maimonides, with his doctrine of the 
negative attributes of God. This analogy, however, is 
only an optical illusion. 7 

7 Bussolt and others, who are out to present Spinoza's Deus as a living God, be- 
cause Spinoza says "in God there is an idea of His essence," forget that to Spinoza 
thought and ideas are not synonymous. Spinoza, in assigning to God an idea, does 
not mean to imply that God is conscious and thoughtful, or that He has a concep- 
tion of His essence. He could just as well say that the tree has an idea of his essence 
and still not imply that the tree is self-conscious. 


The God of Maimonides, while undefinable, is not ex- 
clusively immanent, for He is self-conscious and is above 
all ethical reality. Together with the God of the ancient 
prophets of Israel, He desires only the good. Spinoza's 
God, however, not being possessed of any consciousness 
or will, cannot contain any ethical reality. To Maimon- 
ides nature and ethics were not identical because nature 
and God were not identical, but to Spinoza the reverse 
was true. If his God is so detached from reality that 
nothing emanates from Him, how can the world be de- 
duced from Him ? How can a God who is self-sufficient 
unto Himself have any relationship to the world? Thus, 
the very definition of God by Spinoza creates problems 
for him which as it will be established later he never 
solved. Only a satisfactory answer to the question 
"What is God" and not "How can we know of His exist- 
ence?" would satisfy the philosopher and religionist 
alike. In attempting to answer this question Spinoza 
developed his theory of the attributes and the modi. 
"By attribute I understand that which the intellect per- 
ceives of substance, as if constituting its essence." "By 
modus I understand the affections of substance, or that 
which is in another thing through which it is also con- 
ceived." These two definitions, scholastic, involved, 
and obstruse, purported to play the foundations for his 
explanation of the relationship of God to the world. 
Even if one knows that an attribute is that which the 
intellect perceives of substance or that the modus is the 
affection of the substance, one still does not understand 
the relationship between God and the world. 

Even Spinoza's famous axiom which says, "That by 
God I understand being, absolutely infinite, that is to 
say substance consisting of infinite attributes, each one 


of which expresses eternal and infinite essence/' does 
not shed any light upon this problem. His only expla- 
nation of what is God is that He is free. It is, however, 
the sort of freedom that one enjoys only in prison* 
"That thing which is called free exists from the neces- 
sity of its own nature alone and is determined to action 
by itself alone/' Since God's actions are determined, 
even though by Himself, He is not a free agent, but is 
gagged, bound, and fettered by His own laws. Thus 
arises a new God-figure in the great pantheon of gods 
who is absolute and infinite, but lifeless because He is 
devoid of all personality and self-consciousness. This 
God has infinite attributes of which man knows only 
two, namely, extension or space, with all that is in it, 
and thinking or mind. Both attributes are dominated 
by necessity which transform the world into a static 
mechanism. Freedom becomes only a false and ugly 
dream, the superstition of the ignorant. Necessity is the 
only truth and reality. Everything is determined and 
predetermined, following definite laws in an absolute 
and definite manner. The knowledge that God and 
nature are tied to their own laws is no answer to the 
question, what is God and what is His relationship to the 
world. Is God real substance that is to say, a thing in 
itself? Is He merely the sum of the parts or is He some- 
thing that is independent of the parts? The first as- 
sumption is the dogma of naturalistic pantheism, while 
the second is the conviction of idealistic theism. Spino- 
za has not always offered the same solution to this prob- 
lem. "By the guidance of God," he states, "I under- 
stand nothing else but that fixed, unchangeable order of 
nature and by the laws of nature,, by virtue of which 


everything happens, I understand nothing else than 
God's verdicts which constitute eternal truth and ab- 
solute necessity." If the unchangeable order of nature is 
God's verdict, could He render a different verdict? Is 
He at liberty to dictate as He chooses? This question 
Spinoza answers in the negative. Therefore, the expres- 
sion, "The laws of nature are God's verdict/' is only a 
figure of speech which sheds no light upon the problem 
of God's relationship to the world. 

What, then, is his God? Being identical with nature, 
He is also identical with its laws and His will is identical 
with His being. God, nature, or substance is nothing 
in itself independent of the world, but merely the eter- 
nal order of the world. Just as His will is identical with 
His being, so is it also identical with His intellect. 
Hence, He can possess neither will nor intellect, neither 
of which is to be found in nature, which is coequal with 
God. From this it follows that since He is thoughtless 
and will-less, He has no consciousness and is only a 
rigid, lifeless God. He is only the absolute law govern- 
ing being. Instead of saying God is equal with nature, 
Spinoza could have said equally as well that God is the 
law of nature. The conclusion that there can be only 
one form of eventuation admitting of no exceptions, 
save to atheists in Spinoza's meaning of the term, be- 
comes justified. God equals nature and nature equals 
the eternal order of the things and not the sum total of 
the individual things. God or nature, or a personality, 
or a conscious spirit is not an animated concrete whole, 
but a formal oneness, which must be considered the 
necessary order of occurrences. 

Thus, Spinoza's God becomes only a logical category, 


devoid of life, motion, and tension. The source of in- 
spiration to all previous Protestant religiosity had been 
a God who wills and thinks. In such a world a will-less 
and thoughtless God was bound to become a storm cen- 
ter in theology and philosophy. But does Spinoza prove 
the existence of even this dead God? Although he was 
earnest in believing to have demonstrated both the exist- 
ence and the self-existence of God, he overlooked the 
fact that because substance or God has no other cause it 
does not necessarily follow that it must exist in itself. 
The existence and eternity of the substance, which ac- 
cording to Spinoza is an apodictic truth, shrinks upon 
closer examination into a mere formal definition and a 
pious wish. 

This unproved God or substance is not subject to 
change from within or without, and is only an immanent 
cause of the world. Ascribing to the substance many of 
the properties the theologians were wont to ascribe to 
God, such as oneness, infinity, eternity, and the like, 
it is understandable why he calls it God, although in 
reality it has no resemblance to any God-figure save that 
of Brahma. He merely borrows a term from theology to 
develop a logical category , which, because it is nothing in 
itself y can have nothing in common with the God of theology. 

The attributes which were intended to explain the na- 
ture of the substance are also only logical in character. 
Like the substance itself, which as Deity resembles 
neither the Greek Nus, nor the Hindu Atman, nor the 
Hebraic Jehovah, the attributes, too, do not resemble 
those of the God of theology. Substance or God is one 
and is coequal with the whole and with the all of the 
things. Either one identifies substance with the physi- 


cal universe, making the formula "substance equals 
God" identical with "substance equals nature/' which 
is pure materialism, or one assumes that substance does 
not equal the physical world and is, therefore, unknown. 
As such the equation "substance equals God or nature" 
is the equation of one unknown equaling another un- 
known, without any suggestion or hint for its solution. 
Our knowledge is surely not enriched when we are told 
that .v equals jv, without being informed what x or y 
represent. Spinoza's formula Deus sive Natura or Natu- 
ra she Deus could be replaced just as profitably by the 
formula x equals y. But do these equations truly reveal 
God's nature to us? 

Even the oneness of the substance remains only an 
assumption. The human mind, hemmed in by five 
senses, can recognize only the two attributes of God. 
Yet it is mere chance that man is equipped with only 
five senses, for were he equipped with more, he would 
recognize not only more attributes but perhaps more 
substances. The limitations upon the human mind are 
not valid proof of the existence of one substance reveal- 
ing itself in only two attributes. 

It can thus readily be seen that this substance or na- 
ture or God closely resembles the En Kai Pan of the 
ancient Greeks. En Kai Pan as an equation is absurd 
upon its face, violating all the laws of logic. One can 
only equal one but cannot equal alL That the mathe- 
matician and logician Spinoza failed to recognize this 
fundamental truth is one of the most astounding facts 
in the history of the human mind. However, the equa- 
tion Deus sive Natura^ the one equals the all, is typical 
of mystical thought everywhere. In the Occident it first 
manifested itself in ancient Greek religiosity. Later it 


found its way into the philosophy of Heraclitus, into the 
two poems of Empedocles, and finally into the theology 
of St. Paul and Christian mysticism. To all of them the 
equation "one equals all" seemed logical. 

The mystic does not recognize the world with its in- 
dividual phenomena, but experiences it emotionally as 
a whole and as a oneness. He is repelled by the separa- 
tions, divisions, analyses, and abstractions of the logi- 
cian. The whole logical process is strange to his mind 
because he is disinterested in individual things. The 
logician and the scientist, on the other hand, are con- 
cerned with the single and remote things. They know 
that knowledge is only possible from the understanding 
of the single phenomena, and that the discovery of one 
law governing the microcosmos will shed a flood of light 
upon the laws governing the macrocosmos. Francis 
Bacon, the apostle and prophet of modern science, the 
rediscoverer of inductive thinking, was chiefly interested 
in the parts, while Baruch Spinoza, apostle and prophet 
of intuitive thinking, was mainly concerned with the 
whole. He is typical of all mystical consciousness, with 
its contempt for empiric knowledge. 

Spinoza speaks constantly of recognition and knowl- 
edge, but he would have made himself infinitely clearer 
had he spoken of experience and feeling- To him the 
world appeared as one whole containing no gaps or 
abysses between subject and object, between ego and 
cosmos. His conception of the oneness of God is not a 
numerical oneness, but a metaphysical non-duality, 
God's oneness is conditioned by the totality of His 
being. It is oneness only because duality or plurality is 
only a product of the imagination, something anthro- 
pomorphic and hence not applicable to God. This con- 


ception of oneness is common to all religion and is even 
shared by Hebrew monotheism. The ancient Hebraic 
formula for this conception of oneness is Efes Bilodoi, 
"there is nothing besides me." If the oneness of God is 
identical with the totality of being, then it cannot be 
quantitative and mechanical, but qualitative and dy- 
namic. As such the substance must be conceived as a 
basic force from which a multitude of energies express 
and reveal themselves. God would then be the spirit 
and the mind of the world. Panlogicism or an animated 
universe in Spinozism would reduce it to either Hege- 
lianism or Brunoism. However, there is nothing in 
Spinoza's system which bears out this presumption. To 
him God's power is identical only with His eternal be- 
ing, and His activities are but the unchangeable order 
of the natural laws. God is not the supreme cause of the 
world with its manifestations and emanations. He is 
not the immediate cause of everything. Spinoza asserts 
that "God cannot properly be said to be the remote 
cause of particular things unless for the sake of dis- 
tinguishing them from the things which He has immedi- 
ately produced, or rather which follow from His abso- 
lute nature/' If God is not even the remote cause of par- 
ticular things, He is not the immediate cause of things 
at all. From a purely logical point of view it is even 
wrong to describe Spinoza's God as cause, for that im- 
plies effect, which He does not produce. The concep- 
tion of cause implies the idea of creativeness, but Spino- 
za's God, being only the order of things, is sterile and 
important. Yet Spinoza applies the term operari, "oper- 
ate," to Him. Just as motion presumes a mover, so does 
operation presume an operator. If God is only the order 
of things, the eternal revolution in the realm of nature, 


where does operating fit into this scheme of things? If 
everything proceeds by virtue of eternal, definite, im- 
mutable, and unchangeable laws, the term "operate" 
in regard to this God has no more meaning than the 
term "creation" or "emanation" or "evolution." 

During the past century innumerable treatises and 
dissertations, which attempted to explain the substance 
of Spinoza's substance, have been written. Every schol- 
ar has given his own answer to this question. Many of 
them have gone far afield and some even identified it 
with monotheism. Spinoza's own explanation explains 
little, when he says that there are an infinite number 
of attributes of which we know only two. If it is true 
that every affirmation is a negation, then even an infi- 
nite number of determinates contradicts the very con- 
ception of the substance. So why have the infinite num- 
ber of attributes? Spinoza's answer is that the more 
attributes a thing may have the more reality it pos- 
sesses. To give the substance a maximum of reality, he 
had to bestow upon it a maximum of attributes. Num- 
bers are anthropomorphic in character, but Spinoza uses 
this very anthropomorphic element in order to bestow 
absoluteness upon his substance. By no stretch of the 
imagination can Spinoza be credited with having dem- 
onstrated the reality of the substance by the infinite 
number of attributes, for we cannot conclude one un- 
known from another. Since man can know only two 
attributes, these only can have any reality for him. It 
follows that Spinoza's substance, which is intended to 
be the absolute and the objective, is only an anthro- 
pomorphism and a projection of the human mind. 

The substance is coequal with the mathematical order 
of things, but the mathematical order is rooted solely in 


the intellect. This coequality makes the former purely 
subjective in nature. Spinoza, the mystic, despite all 
his philosophical protestations to the contrary, was a 
subjectivist who aspired to establish a direct contact be- 
tween the ego and the absolute. To do so he hypothe- 
sizes the substance, believing it to be the incarnation of 
all reality, of which in truth it is devoid. Being an ens 
rationis y it is only a product of the human mind. Spino- 
za's substance or God is thus not definable, not know- 
able, not absolute, nor objective, nor is its existence 
proved. It is a Godless mysticism, for his term God 
or Deus is a misnomer. 8 It is the shadow of a pale dream 
of a mystic. 

Spinoza faced a world full of variety, manifoldness, 
multitudinousness, changeability, chance, and accident. 
Having experienced this world, he felt himself to be at 
one with it. He was consumed by the desire to bring 
oneness out of multitudinousness, order out of chaos, 
discipline out of confusion, and harmony out of dis- 
harmony. Therefore, he evolved the theory which be- 
came a physics of fate, which was to domesticate des- 
tiny by forcing it into mathematical, mechanical order. 
In so doing he repeated the feats of Buddha, St. Paul, 
and St. Augustine. 


It has been shown that Spinoza's substance is inde- 
finable and intangible. As such it cannot possibly be the 

8 The identity of God and the world is his basic doctrine, but in a letter to Olden- 
burg he declares that "persons who dunk that my work presupposes that God and 
nature are identical err fundamentally." On the one hand he states that body and 
soul are identical, but the human mind cannot be destroyed with the body, and if 
body and soul are identical how can the soul survive the body? In one passage of 
the EtJacs he states that the soul springs directly from God and hence must be 
mortal, but m another passage he states that the soul belongs to the realm of the 
9reated things. Such gross contradictions can be found m almost every page of 
Spinoza's Ethics. 


cause of the world, unless it possesses something that is 
determinate and concrete. Spinoza himself was well 
aware of this shortcoming. To bridge this gap he 
evolved the theory of the attributes of God, which he 
described as "that which reason recognizes as the es- 
sence of the substance." 9 But this seemingly clear defi- 
nition only obscures the problem, for it will be estab- 
lished that it is as complicated, difficult, and contradic- 
tory as the problem of the substance. Since he defines 
the latter as absolute, indeterminate being, the question 
is justified whether such a being can have any attributes 
at all. An attribute is something that is definite and 
determinate. Since every determination is a negation or 
a limitation, the attributes must make the absolute rela- 
tive. But if we were to overlook the attributes, how can 
God be equal with nature, which is something concrete 
and determinate? It is thus evident that God cannot be 
absolute and at the same time coequal with nature. 

Spinoza must have realized the contradictory charac- 
ter of his doctrine of the attributes, for in one of his 
epistles he he says that, in reality, there is no distinc- 
tion between attributes and substance. Only for meth- 
odological and psychological reasons does he call attri- 
butes that which the human mind sees of substance, for, 
like the latter, they are self-contained and independent- 
ly existent. But then there must be some distinction be- 
tween attributes and substance, for if there were none 
the former would be superfluous. Spinoza's definitions 
failed to explain the discrepancies between them. The 
five foremost Spinoza scholars of the nineteenth cen- 
tury Erdmann, Hartmann, Thomas, Fisher, and Freu- 

9 All the contradictions, unevennesses and difficulties arising out of Spinoza's 
theory of substance are best summarized in Benztou Kcllermann's dissertation, 
Lie Ethik Spinozas uber Gott und Geist, Berlin, 1922. 


denthal have placed five different interpretations upon 
the apparent identification of substance and attributes, 
and the consequences arising therefrom. 

In view of Spinoza's own identification of the attri- 
butes with the substance, Erdmann suggested that the 
attributes are not to be understood as being God's qual- 
ities or properties, but that they are merely forms of rec- 
ognition. They are only intellectu, presuming the in- 
tellect and, therefore, not very different from the sub- 
jectivism of Kant. If this interpretation is correct, 
then God, being absolute and indeterminate, becomes 
totally unknowable and can never become an object of 
recognition. Both God and nature are victims of hal- 
lucination, for if attributes are only forms of recognition, 
nature vanishes entirely. But this apparently contra- 
dicts the theory of Spinoza, who does not teach the 
existence of an attributeless God. He maintains that 
God is knowable and recognizable, although we mortals 
can understand him only in a limited way through two 
of His attributes. If the attributes are only intellectu, 
the problem of the modus by which Spinoza proposes to 
bridge the absolute with the world becomes complicated 
and insoluble, for he declares that the intellect comes un- 
der the category of the modus. It would then seem that 
the attributes, being forms of the intellect, are derived 
from the modus, which is contrary to the theory of 
Spinoza. It is also difficult to understand how the at- 
tributes can only be forms of recognition since to Spino- 
za recognition is also coequal with being. They are not 
forms of recognition in the Kantian sense, for then even 
if we were to accept the substance as a reality it would 
be impossible to explain how the world follows from 


What are the attributes? Spinoza himself makes 
frantic efforts, though to little avail, to show the dis- 
tinction between the attributes and the substance by 
modifying his own definitions as he goes along. At first 
he says of the attributes that he understands of them 
that what reason recognizes of substance. But in an- 
other passage of his Ethics he defines the attributes "as 
that which can be recognized by the infinite intellect 
as the essence of the substance, that belongs to the one 
and unique substance." In short, the attributes are no 
longer that which reason recognizes of the substance, 
but that which the infinite recognizes of it. Since sub- 
stance is absolute, infinite being, consisting of many 
attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite 
essence, they differ from the substance only in that they 
are infinite in kind. Thus the attributes actually be- 
come modified substances. 

Spinoza himself often identifies God with the sum 
total of His attributes and stresses their eternity. The 
infinite absolute per se would then become coequal with 
the infinite absolute in kind. This equation makes ei- 
ther substance relative or the attributes absolute and 
infinite. If the reality of the two attributes of the sub- 
stance are contested, what reality can the infinite attri- 
butes have? Assuming that the infinity of attributes is 
reality, it must also be assumed that all the attributes 
are equally represented in the same manner in each 
modus. The two attributes, extension and thinking, are 
represented in equal amounts in every stage of individ- 
uality. Therefore, it must be assumed that all the un- 
known attributes are also represented in us, for there 
cannot be more attributes in the absolute than are to be 
found in the individual, but in such an undeveloped de- 


gree as to be unnoticeable. Man would thus become a 
micro-substance in place of a mere modus. But these 
are logical conclusions of a mystical presumption. 

Eduard von Hartmann in his History of Metaphysics 
maintains that Spinoza himself never assumed more 
than two attributes, from which the essence of the sub- 
stance would be determined. It is his opinion that the 
doctrine of the infinite number of attributes was only a 
deductive whim. Freudenthal, on the other hand, in his 
Spinoza fully accepts Spinoza's explanation that the 
human mind is limited and finite and cannot possibly 
conceive the infinite or the infinite number of attributes. 
He, nevertheless, admits the difficulties and complica- 
tions which arise from this theory. 

The problem of the attributes also affects the doctrine 
of the recognizability of God. Spinoza believed that 
God is recognizable by man, for otherwise we could rec- 
ognize nothing. The recognition of God presumes that 
we fully recognize His complete character. However, 
since we know only two of an infinite number of His at- 
tributes, we can recognize only an infinitesimal part of 
His character. How can we then assume that we have 
an adequate idea of God ? Spinoza admits this difficulty 
without granting its consequences. In his fifth and sixth 
epistles he says, "We recognize God not wholly but only 
in some of His attributes, not all and not the greatest 
part of them. It is certain that ignorance of most of 
them prevents us from having some knowledge of 
them." Thus, Spinoza himself admits that the theory 
of recognition of God is incompatible with the theory of 
the infinite attributes, but nevertheless maintains that 
God is recognizable. Since the recognition of God was 
more important to Spinoza than His attributes, it would 


seem that Hartmann was correct in his assumption that 
Spinoza did not take the infinite attributes seriously. 
We must, therefore, proceed on the theory that God 
has only two attributes with which He is coequal. This 
coequahty instead of explaining God explains away na- 
ture, for if God is intangible, so are the attributes. Thus 
the question as to what are the attributes still remains 

Spinozism has been described traditionally as monism, 
for the una substantia is its outstanding feature. But the 
obscurities, complications, difficulties, and contradic- 
tions in the theory of the attributes make even this 
monism questionable. In fact, it has often been attacked 
on the ground that it is not monism but pluralism. 
Thus K. Thomas in his Spinoza s Individualism and 
Pantheism has pointed out that the attributes are sub- 
stances, for there is little to distinguish the one from the 
other. If the attributes are substances, Spinozism itself 
spells pluralism and polycosmism. This assumption, 
however, contradicts the entire spirit of Spinoza, for 
while one may dispute his ontological proof, one cannot 
deny his intended monism, for he constantly asserts that 
outside of God no other substance can even be con- 
ceived. Whatever Spinoza's theory of the una substan- 
tia may signify when interpreted in the light of his com- 
plicated and contradictory theory of the attributes, it 
is certain that he utilized them to strengthen rather 
than to weaken his monism. 

Kuno Fisher, the foremost historian of philosophy of 
the nineteenth century, believed to have ironed out 
these difficulties by assuming that the attributes are 
merely forces of God. If God is the cause of everything, 
the individual things are His manifestations. He is not 


only the immanent, but also the creative, force of all 
phenomena. A multitude of phenomena presumes a 
multitude of forces, which Spinoza characterizes as at- 
tributes. The relationship of the attributes to the sub- 
stance would be similar to the relationship of cause to 
effect. However, this interpretation must be dismissed, 
for Spinoza's God-conception precludes creation despite 
his juggling with the term operari. Furthermore, from 
a purely formalistic point of view there is no difference 
between the identity of God and His attributes and the 
coequahty of God and His forces and phenomena. Such 
an identification is only a repetition of the old adage that 
God is identical with the universe. That Spinoza did 
not intend to identify natura with the universe can be 
seen from the fact that the former also includes the at- 
tribute of thinking. Kuno Fisher attempts to save Spi- 
noza's monism by arbitrarily transforming it into gross 
materialism and naturalism. Then, having personally 
effected this transformation, he criticises Spinoza for 
being a naturalist. 

If the attributes are not forces, as Fisher maintains, or 
substances as Thomas asserts, what are they? Spinoza 
characterizes one attribute as the idea and the other as 
the nature of God. The relationship of the substance to 
the attributes is coequal to God's idea, which is the to- 
tality of thinking, and to God's nature, which is the 
totality of being. Both attributes are identical, al- 
though they represent two kinds of actuality. They are 
the ideal and the real side of substance, or natura natu- 
rans, and have no independent existence. They are 
God's two visible cheeks to man, the two shining stars 
of the one absolute. Any other interpretation would 
make Spinoza a materialist and a naturalist. 


This interpretation safeguards Spinoza's monism, but 
does not explain how the determinate and relative things 
follow from the indeterminate and absolute substance or 
God. Substance, being indeterminate and absolute, is 
so gloriously detached from everything determinate and 
tangible, and from everything that is either a negation 
or an affirmation, that it is not apparent what possible 
connection it can have with this world, unless one as- 
sumes that Spinoza's natura is identical with the physi- 
cal universe. Such an assumption would contradict the 
very starting-point of Spinoza. The answer to the ques- 
tion as to what are the attributes is the same as the 
answer to the question as to what is substance. Both 
are intangible, mystical conceptions. 

Spinoza must have felt that his theory did not clear 
up all the complications arising from his attempt to 
connect God with the world. He, therefore, proceeded 
to impose a superstructure upon his system, the theory 
of the modi, which is his third basic doctrine. 


While the substance and attributes can be understood 
by themselves, the modus can only be conceived through 
something else. "By modi I understand the affections of 
substance, or that which is another thing through which 
it is conceived." The substance and the attributes are 
infinite, but the single modus, as an individual thing or 
being, is finite and limited. Its relationship to the at- 
tributes has been compared to the relationship of the 
geometric figure to space, in which the first presumes the 
second. Spinoza described the modi as either modifica- 
tions, or accidents, or contingencies. They are not free 
but are caused by necessity and are, therefore, called 


res necessaria. In contradistinction to the attributes, 
they are only the transient and passing things in the 
flux of phenomena. There are, however, two kinds of 
modi: finite and infinite. The individual modus is finite 
and limited, but all the modi combined in their inner 
connection are infinite. They are the necessary order of 
empirical being. 

The attributes of substance are thinking and exten- 
sion. The modus of the attribute of thinking is idea and 
that of extension is body. The totality of all ideas is 
absolute infinite reason and the totality of the inner con- 
nection of all physical being is motion and rest. Thus 
the modi constitute reality, for without ideas thinking 
would be inarticulate and without motion and rest sub- 
stance would be without actuality. 

Everything that follows from the essence of the sub- 
stance or God or from the attributes exists by necessity 
and is infinite. From this follows the necessity of the 
modi in their inner connection. Existence springs not 
only from the nature of the attributes, but also from the 
totality of all the modi. What, then, distinguishes the 
attributes from the infinite modi ? 

The finite and limited things do not follow from the 
infinite substance and attributes, but only from the 
infinite modi. The finite modi are only accidents of the 
attributes of God. It is thus evident that God can be 
the cause only of infinite things and not of individual or 
remote things. This naturally makes God a chef de 
monde irresponsable> a God who cannot be held responsi- 
ble for what happens in this world, because being only 
the mathematical order of things He is a dead God. 

Even if we assume that the modi are free from those 
complications, difficulties, and contradictions with 


which the substance and attributes are replete, it would 
still be impossible to deduce the world from God. Let us 
keep in mind the basic doctrine that infinite things pro- 
duce infinite effects and finite things produce finite ef- 
fects. Substance being infinite can produce only some- 
thing that is infinite. But how can the infinite modi 
resolve themselves into a multiplicity of finite modi? 
Thus that which was obscurity before becomes groping 
darkness now, for if the determinate and finite things 
cannot follow from the indeterminate and the absolute, 
what is the connection between God and the world? To 
get out of this difficulty Spinoza resorts to the formula 
of a twofold causality. The first is the source of exist- 
ence and is called the power by which everything per- 
severes in existing, and the other is the cause only of 
the temporary limitation of things. Both types of causal- 
ity are God. If He is the cause of the temporary limita- 
tion of things, He has a connection with the world, but 
this assumption undermines the foundations of the entire 
structure of Spinozism. The logician would argue that 
God either is or is not the cause of the remote things. 
But Spinoza, the mystic, answers affirmatively and neg- 
atively at the same time. On the one hand, God is not 
the cause of the remote things; He is responsible for 
them through His double causality. 

The hypothesis of His double causality has contrib- 
uted little to solving this vexing problem. Spinoza merely 
assumes the limited existence of being, without either 
proving it or indicating its origin. Natura natura- 
ta, physical nature, does not spring from natura natu- 
ransy substance, for the finite does not follow from the 
infinite. Even though Spinoza did not intend to deny 
the world he did so malgre lui, and thereby earned him- 


self the title of "acosmist." From the point of view of 
the acosmist the world is a phantom sans reality and 
sans origin, in which man is but the shadow of a ghost. 
He is only one of the finite modi and not the aim and 
goal of creation. He merely becomes an accidental err- 
ing creature in a vast universe governed by immutable 
and eternal laws, to which.he is chained for all eternity. 
He becomes a superfluous being without aim, goal, or 
purpose. Spinoza's theory of the modi makes this con- 
clusion inevitable. 

Substance and the attributes are intangible; and man 
as one of the modi, having no inner connection with 
either because he is finite and temporary, becomes only 
a whim of blind destiny migrating from existence to 
existence without goal or aim. This conception of man 
and God has made Spinoza the most contested figure in 
modern philosophical thought. In explaining away the 
world and in reducing man to an accidental, floating 
atom in the universe, Spinoza has only reproduced the 
mystical world-picture of the ancient Hindus. 


God being the inner cause of everything is imbedded 
in Spinoza's system as natura naturans y but His neces- 
sary manifestations such as the modi of the attributes, 
both infinite and finite, are natura naturata. The world is 
supposed to follow from God, but not as an act of crea- 
tion; for having neither will nor intellect He cannot 
create. Neither can the world be conceived as being an 
emanation, or an evolvement, or even an evolution of 
God. The idea of evolution involves a goal of higher 
perfection; but since He is perfectibility incarnate, He 
cannot become more perfect than He is. Neither could 


the world have been evolved from Him directly, for it is 
not compatible with His nature. Both emanation and 
evolution assume a duality between God and the world 
which Spinoza denies. Thus, the problem of how the 
world follows from God or can be deduced from 
Him still remains unsolved. The infinite modus contrib- 
utes little to the solution of this problem, for it has the 
same properties as the attributes from which it does not 
organically differ. But, on the other hand, it cannot be 
assumed that the many and infinite attributes are iden- 
tical with the many and infinite modi, for then either the 
one or the other becomes superfluous. These attempts 
to introduce a duality of terms such as the twofold 
causality and twofold modi, do not clarify the main 
problem, for they purport to explain the unknowable 
through the unknowable. 

The three basic doctrines in the system of Spinoza 
substance, attributes, and modi geometrically demon- 
strated and expressed in the form of apodicticity, have 
a threefold object: first to prove the existence and one- 
ness of God; second, the reality of the world; and, third, 
how the world follows from God. But none of these 
three theses is proved. Even Spinoza's dialectic genius 
could not organically link a living world to a dead God, 
Since a God without will, intellect, or self-consciousness 
is the starting-point, no possible tension between God 
and the world and between God and man could arise. 
As tension is the very kindling-point of life, its absence 
precludes life. Just as tension in nature creates organic 
life, so does tension between God and man create ethics. 
Hence, Spinoza's man becomes an a-ethical creature, a 
piece of biological nature. In the light of Spinoza's life- 
less God, the conception of His perfectibility becomes 


paradoxical, for perfection can be applied only to a 
living and not to a dead God. 

Spinoza denies both values and ends. All values have 
their origin only in feelings and emotions. When one 
says God is perfect, one defines a certain value; but 
when one mathematizes life, one eliminates all feelings 
and denies all values. The mathematization of the 
world, of God, and of man resulted in a theory of causa- 
tion, which makes all values, whether moral, ethical, 
religious, and social, impossible. 

Spinoza believed to have reached the heights when he 
taught that God has neither intellect nor will. Yet he 
thought that this God possessed a necessary idea of His 
own essence and all its necessary consequences. If this 
God has an idea of His own essence, He must possess 
consciousness, which implies will and intellect. Further- 
more, He would be living personality. Yet, Spinoza 
stresses so often the a-personality of God, that it is sim- 
ply not permissible to deduce any monotheistic doctrine 
from his God-conception as did Friedrich Paulsen, 10 who 
apparently mistook monism for monotheism. 

Eduard von Hartmann tries to explain Spinoza's self- 
contradictory God-doctrine by his Jewish heritage. He 
believes that his God has a theistic coloring, because He 
has an idea of His own. How, then, could Spinoza be 
accused of being an atheist? However, there is one 
thing that cannot be eliminated from Spinoza's system 
God is coequal with nature, and with causation. If 
this God possesses a necessary idea of Himself, this con- 
tradiction can be explained only by the fact that Spino- 
za, being primarily a religionist, is full of inconsistencies, 
despite his use of the mathematical method and the ap- 

10 Einleitung in die Philosophic (Berlin, 1901), p. 318. 


parent simplicity of his system. As a result of the inner 
contradictions in his system, he was at the same time 
called atheist and monotheist, monist and pluralist, acos- 
mist and realist, rationalist and mystic, voluntarist and 
intellectualist. While he is far from being a theist, he can- 
not be called an atheist, at least not in the occidental 
meaning of the term. In the West, atheism connotes 
materialism and naturalism linked to atomism, neither 
of which can be ascribed to Spinoza. 

Nothing is more characteristic of the mystical mind 
and yearning of Spinoza than his Amor dei intellectualis^ 
the intellectual love of God, and his naive belief in the 
recognizability of the noumenal world. Spinoza's God 
cannot be loved because, being without will or intellect, 
He cannot respond to love. The term "love" implies a 
partnership between two living objects. Hence living 
man cannot have any love for a dead God. 

The true philosopher differs from the mystic in that 
the former denies and the latter affirms the possibility 
of the knowledge of the noumenal world. From the 
very beginning Spinoza sets out to prove the possibility 
of this knowledge. Even after his admission that we 
know only of two of the attributes of God, he still main- 
tains that we can have an adequate idea of Him. This 
point of view is typical of all mystical consciousness be- 
cause the mystic has an inner yearning for a direct con- 
tact with the absolute, which often overpowers his criti- 
cal judgment. In his frantic efforts to establish a con- 
tact with the forces of eternity, and in his numerous 
attempts to argue God's personality out of existence, 
Spinoza typifies Eastern mysticism. It will be estab- 
lished that all the characters and features of Spinoza's 
thinking, which express themselves in the struggle of 


universalism against individualism and in the struggle 
for a dead God, are only tremors of Eastern mysticism 

in a Western world. 


Man was discovered by Socrates through ethics, by 
the ancient Hebrews through religion, by the Italian 
Renaissance through science, and by the German Refor- 
mation through piety. The discovery of man signalized 
the end of the Dark Ages in Europe. "The greatest 
feature of the Italian Renaissance," states Jacob Burk- 
hardt, "is its rediscovery of man." Descartes's cogito 
ergo sum, "I think; therefore, I am," is but another sym- 
bol of this powerful man-consciousness, which viewed 
him as the crown and aim of all creation. In this atti- 
tude Paracelsus and Agrippa, Taurellus and Kepler, 
Nicholas de Cusa and Martin Luther, agreed com- 
pletely. Paracelsus regarded man as the essence of all 
things, superior even to the stars. Agrippa and Taurel- 
lus thought man to be the embodiment of all the sci- 
ences. Nicholas de Cusa likens man to a highly polished 
diamond which mirrors all things. Kepler believed that 
man has only to remember his knowledge, for all ideas 
are innate in him. He is the eternal measure of all 
things, because he is the image of God. The sole excep- 
tion to this deification of man is to be found in Leonardo 
da Vinci, who, like all cosmic-minded artists, regarded 
man as only a floating atom in an infinite universe. 

It is in the light of this conception of man that we 
must examine Spinoza's theory of man and ethics, which 
came as such a shock to the men of his generation. 
They who pictured man as the highest product of crea- 
tion entitling him to a higher position in life, learned 
that man was only one of the modi, an insignificant 


item in the multitudinousness of things- They were 
still more shocked to discover that the human mind is 
bereft of freedom, for it is only a part of nature subject 
to all its laws. Spinoza was aware that his conception 
would provoke the orthodox. He is, therefore, quick to 
state that man's position in nature is not that of a state 
within a state entitling him to special privileges. Being 
only a part of nature and not apart from nature, he is 
subject to all its laws without reservation. The idea of 
his freedom is only an illusion, a superstition. Man's 
conduct is not determined by whims, caprices, and un- 
certainties, but by definite and immutable laws, which 
reign supreme over things, beasts, and man. 

The universality of nature necessitates the under- 
standing of man's strength and weaknesses from the 
point of view of the one law common to everything in 
nature. The study of human conduct requires the meth- 
odology of any other natural phenomenon. If geometry 
is applicable to metaphysics, it is also applicable to 
ethics. If the whole of nature can be mathematized, 
surely man, who is only a part of nature, can be pressed 
into geometric axioms. This attempt to mathematize 
man, insulting as it may be to human intelligence, is 
justified from Spinoza's point of view. To him, man's 
mind becomes only a space upon which geometric lines 
and figures are drawn. He considers man's moods and 
caprices, stupidity and genius, creative power and vi- 
sion, ambition and will, as a series of lines, planes, and 
solids. But can human passions, emotions, and feelings 
be explained mathematically? Is the conception of 
space applicable to the human mind, and can its move- 
ments be explained with the same precision as those of 
geometry? Can there be geometry of the human soul? 


Spinoza answers these questions in the affirmative and 
formulates a number of principles which, to his mind, 
regulate the movements of the human soul with mathe- 
matical precision. Beginning with the law of self-pres- 
ervation, Spinoza formulates three basic principles: 
appetites, the desire for self-preservation inherent in 
body and mind; cupiditas, the outer desires of body and 
mind; and voluntas, or will, the inner desires of the mind. 
The human body may be affected by many things of dif- 
fering natures. Those factors which increase or dimin- 
ish the powers of the body, correspondingly increase or 
diminish the powers of the mind. Man's desire for self- 
preservation can be modified by his passions. How 
man's state of mind can be modified by the basic desire 
for self-preservation can be seen from the fact that the 
satisfaction of desire is joy, and the inhibition of desire 
is sadness. 

These are the basic principles by which Spinoza pro- 
poses to explain the movements of the human soul. 
He distinguishes between primary and secondary af- 
fects. The primary affects, desire, joy, and sadness, are 
the only ones which, like substance, are not deducible 
from anything else. All the other passions which move 
the human soul, such as love, hatred, envy, jealousy, 
esteem, or contempt, are consequences and culmina- 
tions of the primary affects. These psychological theo- 
ries differed but little from the psychological under- 
standing of the day. Only the mathematization of man, 
culminating in the absolute determinism of the soul, 
brought forth the shocked protests of his generation. 
The desire for self-preservation, while it is the primary 
driving force in the life of man, is not the only force as 
Spinoza maintains. Only a superficial orientation in life 


will prove how absurd it is to make this principle abso- 
lute. It is a common phenomenon for man to end his 
life because he is plagued by a guilty conscience, or 
driven to despair because of social disgrace or moral 
failure. Neither can Spinoza's mathematized soul ex- 
plain the phenomena of penitence, asceticism, and ad- 
venture. Neither does it shed any light upon the abnor- 
mal state of the collective mind, which drives the group 
to riotous joys or to depressing gloom. To Spinoza the 
group as an organic unit is inconceivable. Just as his 
substance fails to explain the world, so does his basic 
theory of the human soul fail to solve the complicated 
psychological processes of the individual and the col- 
lective mind. 

It has already been shown how Spinoza, by identify- 
ing substance with causation, sought to eliminate every 
possibility of free will and teleology from the life of man. 
Even in his theory of the soul he aimed at the same ob- 
ject by his parallelity of body and mind. Thus proposi- 
tion 2 of the third division of his Ethics says, "The body 
cannot determine the mind to thought, nor can the mind 
determine the body to motion, nor to rest, nor to any- 
thing else, if there be anything." Not only the modern 
biologist and psychologist, but even the observing lay- 
man, will smile benevolently at this "geometric proposi- 
tion." One can observe daily that the body does deter- 
mine the mind to thought, and that the mind does deter- 
mine the body to motion. Purely mental processes often 
cause not only psychical but also physical disturbances 
in man. Spinoza demonstrates this proposition by say- 
ing, "All modes of thought have God for a cause in so 
far as He is a thinking thing, and not in so far as He is 
explained by any other attribute. That which deter- 


mines the mind to thought, therefore, is a mode of 
thought and not of extension, that is to say, it is not the 
body." But this entire proof is only formalistic scholas- 
tic jargon, based upon arbitrary presumptions, which 
have no basis in reality. 

To Spinoza it is the absolute law of causation to which 
man is subject, which eliminates all teleology from phys- 
ical and mental life. Since the attributes of extension 
and thinking are like parallel lines which do not affect 
each other, Spinoza argues that thinking cannot be in- 
strumental in modifying extension. Just as God exists 
for no definite purpose, so can He not be moved to ac- 
tion by and for definite purposes. While nothing follows 
from God's nature, everything follows from God's es- 
sence, necessity. From this it follows that the idea of 
ends and purposes is only a human invention. How- 
ever, the very presupposition that mind and body do not 
affect each other is not borne out by experience. The 
reverse is actually the case, and sometimes mind and 
body even shock each other. If Spinoza has no better 
proof for the absence of all teleology in the mental proc- 
ess than the absolute parallelity of thinking and exten- 
sion, of mind and matter, then teleology is not only not 
an invention of the human mind, but is as hard a reality 
as extension and thinking. 

Spinoza's mathematized soul simplifies the under- 
standing of life. Man has within himself the desire for 
self-preservation. Joy is conducive to existence and 
sadness is inimical to it. Hence, man should aspire to 
find joy and to escape sadness. Therefore, we must 
discover the causes of our affects and eliminate those 
detrimental to them. Spinoza thus furnishes a program 
to man to aspire to joy. Yet the feeling that man is 


only a prisoner in a jail, from which there can be no 
possible escape, and that all his movements are pre- 
determined and predestined, is not likely to flood man's 
soul with happiness, but, on the contrary, to cause 
it to overflow with despair. He who was one of the 
most tragic figures in all history had no conception of 
the essence of the tragic. The idea that sadness inhibits 
life is only a partial truth. Often it deepens, widens, 
purifies, thereby furthers and fosters the life of both the 
individual and the group. 

Spinoza's three primary affects, desire, joy, and sad- 
ness, are intended to explain love and hatred. Their 
causes are not isolated essences, but are closely con- 
nected with all other things which kindle in our soul. 
Love is joy produced by an external cause, and hatred is 
sorrow caused in similar fashion. Spinoza had no con- 
ception of love, and his definition of it is only somewhat 
less obscene than that of Kant. This misconception of 
love was one of the few ideas that both philosophers had 
in common. 

Spinoza enumerates the affects, or the compassions, 
or the desire of the soul in geometric form. His defini- 
tions, forty-eight in number, are reminiscent of a psy- 
chological primer. 

Favor is love toward those who have injured others. 

Indignation is hatred toward those who have injured others. 

Contempt consists in thinking too little of another person in 
consequence of our hatred for him. 

Self-satisfaction is the joy which is produced by contemplating 
ourselves and our own power of action. 

Repentance is sorrow accompanied with the idea of something 
done, which we believe has been done by a free decree of our mind. 

Pride is thinking too much of ourselves through self-love. 

Despondencey is thinking too little of ourselves through sorrow. 

Benevolence is the desire to do good to those whom we pity. 


Fear is the desire of avoiding the greater of two dreaded evils 
by the less. 

Ambition is the immoderate desire of glory. 

Luxuriousness is the immoderate desire or love of good living. 

Lust is the immoderate desire of love and sexual intercourse. 

To the devitalized recluse of Amsterdam, the entire 
gamut of human emotions, passions, and affections 
was understandable only in connection with either ap- 
petitus or cupidttas. If the human soul is moved prima- 
rily by desire, everything to be deduced from it can only 
consist of selfishness, cruelty, meanness, and egotism. 
This attitude makes not only ethics but morality im- 
possible, for ethics presumes at least the autonomy of 
the will, while morality presupposes a definite reaction 
to the voice of nature. Absolute automatism reduces 
the soul to a mechanism, which contradicts all human 
experience. If Goethe was correct in saying that the 
human mind cannot penetrate into the heart of nature, 
it is still more certain that the human mind cannot 
fathom the mysteries of the human soul. A part of it, 
at least, is an unknowable sea which is not navigable. 

The mechanism of the human soul as constructed by 
Spinoza is as full of gaps and gashes as his cosmos. To 
be consequential he had to reduce his ethics ad absurd- 
um. If God is causation from whom everything follows 
with mathematical necessity, then the soul, too, must be 
subject to the most stringent laws of causation, trans- 
forming it into a stark and rigid mechanism. To give 
to his ethical doctrine the appearance of logics, he often 
presses facts into formulas into which they do not fit. 
When Spinoza defines ambition as the immoderate de- 
sire of glory, or repentance as sorrow accompanied by 
the idea of something done, which he believes was done 


by free decree of our mind, we are struck with its incon- 
gruency. Spinoza himself was surely ambitious, ex- 
pressing itself in his attempt to reconstruct the world in 
his own mind. Yet, in justice to him, it cannot be said 
that he had an immoderate desire for glory, which was 
farthest from his mind. Ambition is the desire to do 
things for the sake of accomplishing something, regard- 
less of whether it leads to glory or to disgrace. The 
scientist, artist, philosopher, religionist, or man of af- 
fairs is but little interested in reward or recognition, for 
he is primarily concerned with the accomplishment of 
the things themselves. Nor is repentance, "sorrow ac- 
companied with the idea of something done which we 
believe has been done by free decree of our mind." He 
who repents is but little interested in whether or not his 
commissions were caused by the free decree of his mind. 
He only understands that the thing done should not 
have been done. It should be noted that in Spinoza's 
deterministic world there is really no room for repent- 
ance. Yet since it is a phenomenon which cannot be 
argued away, he reconciles it with his determinism in 
order to seem logical. Just as Spinoza had no adequate 
understanding of repentance, so was his conception of 
pride equally deficient when he defined it as "thinking 
much of ourselves through self-love." This is a descrip- 
tion of self-admiration, not of pride. The humblest, 
meekest of men can experience pride without being ego- 

A closer analysis of Spinoza's theory of affects would 
show that he was face to face with spiritual phenomena, 
which cannot possibly be traced to appetitus or cupidi- 
tas. Spinoza beholds the phenomenon of despondency 
and says that it is thinking too little of ourselves through 


sorrow. Is that despondency, or is it rather a feeling of 
sadness often bordering on despair, which does not orig- 
inate in our own ego? One may become despondent 
and depressed over certain facts, happenings, occur- 
rences. Thus, Spinoza traced every manifestation of the 
soul to selfishness and desire. Even to those unegotistic 
emotions, such as despondency, he attributed egocen- 
tric motives. 

In his theory of the origin and nature of the effects, 
desire is the substance and joy and sadness are the at- 
tributes. Forty-six of the forty-eight affects which he 
enumerates are caused by these three affects. None is 
caused by recognition or by idealistic impulses, since he 
who viewed this world sub specie aeternitatis could not 
at the same time view it sub specie boni. But if there 
are no idealistic impulses, what can good and evil mean 
to Spinoza? To him good is identical with usefulness 
and evil with uselessness. Virtue thereby becomes iden- 
tical with the idea of might, which to him is the corner- 
stone of all ethical and political reality. Spinoza did not 
originate this idea, but borrowed it from the Stoics. 

In reducing ethics to physics he logically proposed 
that since nature must follow its own course, man who 
is only a part of nature must subject himself to its law. 
His identification of man and nature, of virtue and 
might, necessitates a new conception of ethics. He dis- 
cards the ideas and values of good and evil, which he 
replaces with necessity and chance. Determinism be- 
comes the standard of ethical values. That which fol- 
lows from immutable necessity is good and hence useful 
and that which does not follow from it is bad and use- 
less. Spinoza thereby creates an ethical naturalism 
which justifies the status quo. 


Since sadness in Spinoza's judgment does not contrib- 
ute to preserve life or does not contribute to life at all, 
pity and compassion, as well as meekness and humble- 
ness, are useless and injurious. This theory of com- 
passion and meekness reveals Spinoza as being not such 
a true naturalist, but rather a true mechanist. The ani- 
mated organic world is full of compassion and pity. The 
lonely dog, lying near the bed of his sick master with 
eyes filled with compassion, or following the funeral pro- 
cession of his dead master with sunken head and eyes 
filled with sadness, proves that pity and compassion are 
known to the animal world. Only the inorganic world 
ruled by the laws of causation, the realm of static being 
as distinguished from becoming, is bereft of all feeling. 
The geometry by which Spinoza sought to explain his 
world-picture is still and rigid, and is only applicable to 
the inorganic world. 

In mathematizing the human soul, he was forced to 
apply the laws governing inorganic nature to human 
life. His theory of causation excludes all teleology. 
However, human life, which can be perfected only 
through ethics, must have ends and purposes. If man 
is only a link in the eternal chain of causation, ethical 
postulates become impossible. Spinoza's determinism 
reduces man to a mere screw in a mighty machine, which 
is in perpetual motion and requires no outside mover. 
The function of this screw is predetermined from eter- 
nity to eternity. 

Man, both physically and intellectually, is only one 
of the modi. His mind is dependent upon other beings, 
for its function is bound to the body and its affects. 
Not being independent, it is filled with inadequate ideas 
caused by limitations and finalities. Being confused and 


inadequate, it can offer him but little consolation. Only 
when the mind becomes saturated with adequate ideas, 
with the idea of God and its attributes, can man consider 
himself to be free and virtuous. Not man, but God, be- 
comes the purpose and aim of life. Not man, but the 
recognition of God, becomes the theme and center of 
ethics. Spinoza thereby turns from the grossest utili- 
tarianism and solipsism to the most mystical intellec- 
tualism. Through it all he remains a naturalistic ethi- 

Spinoza's man, being deprived of free will, could never 
become the central subject of ethics. Therefore, Spino- 
za altered its fundamental theme. Not man, but God, 
becomes the main concern of ethics. Its central prob- 
lem is not man's relationship to his fellow-man, but true 
recognition of God. Only such knowledge leads to re- 
demption. However, the recognition of God is only the 
knowledge of the order of things. How can such knowl- 
edge help man to attain an ethical ideal, without which 
man is only a part of mechanical nature? This problem 
does not enter into Spinoza's consideration of ethics. 

Spinoza's conception of ethics is that of the mechanist 
and utilitarian, not that of the mystic and intellectual- 
ist. Nature commands us to do only those things which 
are useful for our own well-being. However, this very 
nature also teaches us how to treat our fellow-man, for 
nothing is more useful to man than man. This concep- 
tion of ethics is more dogmatic and farther removed 
from reality than the ethics of the extreme idealists. It 
may explain many sociological facts, but it leaves many 
ethical phenomena unanswered. Man is a social being 
not only because sociability is useful, but also because 
it secures him humaneness. Man as a social atom is 


only an animal. The hermit who dwells in the woods or 
in the desert needs no logics, ethics, aesthetics, juris- 
prudence, or science. Only man among men requires 
these manifestations of the mind. I seek the company 
of my fellow-man, not because he is useful to me, but be- 
cause he can comfort, guide, and solve for me the riddles 
which puzzle my mind. Spinoza's dictum that human 
sociability is based on utilitarianism is contrary to all 
human experiences. Since his science of man is based 
upon this extreme principle, his psychological, political, 
ethical, and juridic theories have no basis in reality. 


What is man's aim and purpose in a world governed 
by eternal, immutable, and unchangeable laws ? Spino- 
za speaks only of God, not of man, God is the aim and 
purpose of life, and only in His recognition can man 
overcome his passions and find happiness and peace of 
soul. Man is free only when he does not contemplate 
about death. The recognition of God is the triumph of 
mind over matter, and can elevate man from a lower to 
a higher state of life. It stimulates man to the purest pas- 
sion and the highest love, Amor del intellectuality the "in- 
tellectual love of God." This identification of recogni- 
tion and love of God is one of the few Hebraic elements 
in Spinoza's God-doctrine, the Hebrew term Daat 
Elohim, signifying both recognition and love of God. 
This Amor del intellectuality being based upon both rec- 
ognition and love, can never be changed into hate. It is 
a love which identifies man with God, by making him an 
immortal part of God's thinking. This God-passion, by 
overcoming human passion and stifling the finite in man, 
unites all men into one brotherhood. Man's love for 


God becomes identical with man's love for his fellow- 
man, and man's salvation becomes the content of hu- 
manity. From recognition to salvation, to happiness, is 
Spinoza's goal for man. 

In true Buddhistic fashion Spinoza concludes his 
Ethics by emphasizing recognition as the only source of 
salvation. But what is the object of recognition? If 
Spinoza was sincere in his declaration that God has 
many attributes and man knows only two, then he is 
unknowable. Hence his recognition is imperfect and 
cannot lead to salvation. Thus man's goal in life re- 
mains unanswered, because mysticism and true philoso- 
phy are strange bedfellows. 

Spinoza is a mystical pantheist, not only because he 
teaches that God is coequal with the world, but because 
he assigns to the intellect the possibility of absolute 
knowledge. Thus a postulate presumes the identifica- 
tion of God and the world, and in his manner he draws 
pantheistic conclusions from rationalistic presumptions. 
This is another paradox of Spinozism. 

It is difficult to reconcile Spinoza's apparent religious 
idealism with his extreme naturalism and mechanism, 
and yet these latter are fundamentally of greater im- 
portance than his doctrines of piety and salvation. 
Though his natura is not identical with the physical 
universe, not mind but nature is the ground of all 
things. Since God is coequal with nature which is gov- 
erned by its own laws, He, too, must be bound by these 
very laws. Here Spinozism empties itself from mysti- 
cism into naturalism and mechanism. 

Yet Spinoza cannot be called a naturalist, because 
from this vantage point he constantly reverts to mysti- 
cism. While rationalistic philosophy presumes that 


human recognition is only relative, mystical philosophy 
presupposes that it is absolute. Only a mystic can as- 
sume an intellectless God and yet entertain an intellec- 
tual relationship to the world. Only a mystic could con- 
ceive of a God who loves Himself with an infinite intel- 
lectual love, who is still incapable of any feeling of joy. 
Only a mystic can deny personality to God and at the 
same time ascribe to Him affects and passions. How- 
ever, affects, no matter of what sort and no matter of 
what nature, are determinate and cannot be reconciled 
with a God who is conceived to be indeterminate. 

The same contradiction can be seen in Spinoza's de- 
scription of God's consciousness and intellect. "There 
exists in God the idea or knowledge of the human mind," 
says Spinoza. But if God has an idea of the human 
mind and ideas can be conceived only through intellect, 
then God, too, has intellect and flies counter to Spinoza's 
assertions to the contrary. However, even if we assume 
with Spinoza that God cannot recognize man, it also fol- 
lows that man cannot recognize God. The recognition 
of God follows from the human mind, which is only one 
of the modi. It is only a link in the eternal chain of na- 
ture which cannot detach itself from the other links. 
Hence, man cannot hope to achieve any salvation or 
happiness in this life. Salvation, the alluring and seduc- 
tive aim which Spinoza dangled before man's eye, is only 
a phantom and an illusion. 

Spinoza aimed to establish a theory of the world and 
a system of knowledge, but in both attempts he failed. 
The entire world-system of Spinoza rests upon the doc- 
trine of God's immanence. However, God is not and 
cannot be the immanent cause of all things, because He 
is absolute, free, unlimited, and necessary, while the 


modi are bound, limited, and not necessary, and there- 
fore cannot be derived from God. There is an unbridge- 
able abyss between substance and modus, making it im- 
possible to deduce reality from the ultimate cosmic prin- 
ciple. God and the world stare at each other. In place 
of salvation we meet only with perdition, instead of in- 
tellectualism we are only offered mysticism, instead of 
monism we behold dualism, and in place of idealism we 
are treated to naturalism. 

Spinoza's attempt to establish a system of knowledge 
was no more successful than his effort to create a har- 
monious world-picture. He developed a theory of 
knowledge which had as its object a God who was un- 
knowable. Since God and nature are identical, the lat- 
ter is also unknowable. Furthermore, his epistemologi- 
cal triumph is only a Pyrrhic victory, because his theory 
of intuitive knowledge has no place in his deterministic 

Like all true Eastern mystics, Spinoza was interested 
not in man, but in the forces of eternity. By controlling 
the second he hoped to regulate the first, but this over- 
weening ambition proved to be his very undoing. Only 
because he dared to make this bold attempt did he im- 
press himself so powerfully upon the Western world. 
Spinozism, in its structure and essence, its aims and as- 
pirations, is the most fascinating idea-poem that has 
ever been recited to man. But tjiis outpouring of the 
soul of the pious Dutch Jew was but the Western echo 
of Eastern mysticism. 




THE tropics offer the least favorable conditions 
for the rise of a culture and a civilization; yet, 
in the land of the Ganges, with its abundance 
of tropic vegetation, unbearable humidity, and burning 
heat, there developed a culture without parallel in the 
annals of Aryan history. The birth of this culture in 
this tropic land tends to prove that heredity, rather than 
environment, is responsible for spiritual creations. 

Long before the Aryans invaded the country from the 
northwest, the Ganges land was populated by a variety 
of tribes. Its autochthon inhabitants created little to 
secure immortality for themselves. Only with the ap- 
pearance of the Aryan invaders did a culture grow out of 
the Indian soil. In Palestine a similar phenomenon can 
be observed. Many tribes and races inhabited the coun- 
try prior to the coming and after the going of the Jews 
from that land. However, Palestine's fame and posi- 
tion in history as the land which gave birth to two great 
religions were determined not by the Canaanites or 
Moabites, but by the Hebrews. It may be said to be a 
law of history that races create, and environment modi- 
fies culture and civilization. 

In the midst of the tropical environment of India, 
with its abundance of life and color and its super- 
abundance of heat and humidity, man, humbled by the 
overpowering forces of nature, surrendered his initiative 
and turned slowly from the luring pleasures of life, its 


sensuous joys, and carnal pleasures, and dedicated him- 
self to the conquest of the spirit. Not only the climatic, 
but also the geographic and topographic, conditions 
favored this process. Hemmed in from the outer world 
by the Hindu-Persian mountain range in the northwest, 
by the Himalayas in the northeast, by the Sea of Persia 
in the southwest, and by the Indian Sea in the south- 
east, India is a country which is almost impregnable to 
the invader. The ancient Hindu was not burdened with 
the struggle for freedom and existence. He was spared the 
necessity of defending his soil and fighting for his inde- 
pendence and security. The fertility of the country re- 
lieved him of his struggle for food. His freedom from 
political and economic pressure enabled him to concen- 
trate his attention upon matters spiritual. 

It is characteristic of ancient Hindu thought that it is 
unrealistic, for it did not kindle in the worries of daily 
life. Hence, it was sovereign, without correlation to life 
or to science which springs from it. In the West philo- 
sophic thought originated in the problems and struggles 
of daily life. Socrates and Plato were concerned with 
man and his welfare. Ethics and politics were the kin- 
dling-points of their philosophical thought. In the Mid- 
dle Ages theology, then the foremost power of life, was 
linked to philosophy. Later, during and after the Ren- 
aissance, the natural sciences were coupled with abstract 
thought. However, in ancient India philosophy always 
remained spiritus purus, independent of daily life and 
biological nature. The forms of Hindu thought, their 
immensity, their profound depths, and dizzying heights, 
were spiritual extensions of the topography of the 

Although the Aryan invaders of India surrendered 


their physical energy, virility, and aggressiveness in that 
tropic land, they yet retained their spiritual vitality. 
The energies of the Western Aryan were directed to the 
conquest of nature, while those of the Eastern Aryan 
were used for the conquest of the spirit. 

By renouncing the struggle with nature, the ancient 
Hindu also gave up his struggle with man. He became 
resigned to his fate, renounced his freedom, and accept- 
ed a world-order in which, like in nature, arbitrariness 
and despotic power reigned supreme. The struggles 
centering about the state which form the content of 
Western Aryan history were strange to the Eastern 
Aryan. Yielding to the forces of nature and man, he 
neglected science and politics, and tolerated sacrificial 
superstitions and cruel caste rule. Hence, ancient 
Hindu philosophy while rich in metaphysics is poor in 

Another characteristic of the ancient Hindu mind was 
its lack of curiosity. The Hindu was g.s disinterested in 
the phenomena of history as in the phenomena of na- 
ture. The ancient Greeks observed that the Hindu 
peasant was so indifferent to his surroundings that he 
continued to work with the plow while bloody battles 
raged about him. Absorbed by his own thought and his 
inner life, he lost interest in his fellow-man and gradu- 
ally became a-social and a-political. His mysticism, 
springing from his own mind and not from contact with 
nature, assumed the form of solipsism. Salvation and 
not welfare became his goal. 

Only the lack of social and political interests in an- 
cient India explains such phenomena as the Brahminic 
priest regime and caste system. In no other country of 
the world has the priest attained such a high estate, such 


despotic power, and such an invulnerable position. The 
Brahmins, who represent the prototype of the Pope- 
Caesar, held full sway over the masses. Richard Garbe 
states in his Ancient Hindu Philosophy: 

They did not establish hierarchical concentration or ecclesiasti- 
cal ranks. They wished to share personally m the government only 
insofar as the king was obliged to appoint a Brahmin as the house- 
hold priest, who as such held also the office of prime minister. 
Nevertheless, they were exceedingly skillful in keeping the nobility 
and the whole people in their power, and their chief means to this 
end was higher knowledge, which they claimed, especially the con- 
duct of sacrifices. For a scientifically presented sacrifice which 
might require weeks, months and even years the Brahmins, of 
course, demanded a fair compensation. Ten thousand cattle are 
prescribed as fee for a certain ceremony. The Brahmins are to be 
recognized, not only as divinities and revered at all times, but they 
are to be considered as divinities to the Gods themselves. 

Only a tropical people made indolent by a tropical 
heat could tolerate such barbaric conditions for so many 
centuries. Just as no sweeping revolutionary movement 
ever arose in ancient India, so was no scientific discov- 
ery of any magnitude ever made in that land. Political 
revolutions require energy and interest in the state and 
in man, while scientific inventions require curiosity. 
The ancient Hindu lacked these qualifications. Being 
disinterested in man, he also was disinterested in his 
beliefs. Nowhere did religious toleration flourish as it 
did in ancient India. Garbe states: "Even those sys- 
tems of philosophy which were heretic from a Brah- 
minic point of view were considered orthodox as long as 
they recognized the class prerogatives of the Brahmins 
and the infallibility of the Veda." The confessions of 
faith in the Scriptures demanded by the Brahmins 
needed only to be nominal. They compelled neither 
full agreement with the doctrines of the Veda nor the 


confession of any belief in the existence of God. The 
same Hindu priest who from egotistic motives punished 
political heresy tolerated religious and philosophical 
libertinism. However, what appears to be religious tol- 
eration was actually only an indifference and contempt 
for the views of their fellow-men. Baruch Spinoza, the 
greatest occidental representative of Eastern mysticism, 
who is to the present day the source of inspiration to 
despots and autocrats, advocated religious tolerance and 
intellectual freedom because he, too, was disinterested 
in man. 

The Hindu mind, detached from earthly worries and 
from reality, made what it called knowledge its main 
interest in life. The Hindu thought abstract thoughts, 
devoid of all substantiality, and dreamt pale dreams 
which did not reflect life. The suffering and agony 
which he saw with his physical eye failed to arouse in 
him a spirit of social and religious rebelliousness. In- 
stead it enveloped him in gloom and in metaphysical 
pessimism. The sight of this miserable world convinced 
him that it is a valley of tears, the most miserable of 
all worlds, which blind fate created in its caprice. These 
impressions aroused in him a number of moral, theologi- 
cal, and philosophical queries. What is the source of 
evil? Can it be overcome? How? What reality do the 
manifoldness of phenomena possess, which gives birth 
to this evil? Is this cosmos a madhouse in which things, 
beasts, men, and gods move about erratically without 
scheme or plan, or is there something beyond, over, and 
above these beings? These were the problems which oc- 
cupied the attention of the ancient Hindu mind from its 
earliest awakening. 

The Hindu, not being orientated in nature or in life as 


was the ancient Greek, never grasped the meaning of 
the single things, the individual phenomena. His eyes 
never beheld definite lines of demarcation, but espied 
only confused phenomena without shape, form, lines, 
or contours. His anxiety to offer one all-embracing ex- 
planation for all that his eye beheld, and his frantic 
efforts to bring some order out of this chaos, caused him 
to regard all things, phenomena, happenings, occur- 
rences, and events as but one thing, one happening. In 
pronouncing the All, the One, he merely projected the 
oneness of his own personality upon the outer world. He 
discovered the oneness of the world in his own soul. 

Philosophical thought in India is either non-dualistic 
or purely monistic. In either form man discovers the 
cosmic principle by projecting his own self upon the 
unchanging cosmic self. 

In all the endless months, years, small and great cycles, past and 
future, this self-luminous consciousness alone neither rises nor sets. 
It is the self which the unaffected spectator of the old drama of 
ideas related to the changing moods of waking, dreaming and sleep- 
ing. The self never dies, is never born unborn, eternal and ever- 
lasting. The ancient one can never be destroyed with the destruc- 
tion of the body. If the slayer thinks he can slay or if the slam 
thinks he is slain, they both do not know the truth, for the self 
neither slays nor is slain. 

This basic thought of ancient Hindu metaphysics in 
which is expressed the eternal sameness of self and dis- 
interestedness in man was already fully expressed in one 
of the oldest Vedic texts, The Brahmana of the 100 Ways, 
in which the rise of the ego as the cosmic principle is 
clearly described. Atman is the breath in which is an- 
chored man's energy or functions. He is the central 
power from which all other breath forces draw their 
existence. "Tenfold breath verily dwelleth in man and 


Atman is the eleventh and on him are based all the other 
breath forces." 

This conception of Atman brought forth a pantheistic 
and monistic world-picture, which to the present day is 
the prototype of all pantheism and all monism. Atman 
is subject and object at the same time. He is the reality 
and the ideality of things, the all and the oneness. He is 
the law and the lawgiver. He is the lord of beasts, man, 
and gods, and at the same time he is in them and coequal 
with them. He is the substance, the world, God. 

What Spinoza called substance the ancient Hindu 
thinkers called Atman. While Spinoza's substance nev- 
er underwent any changes, Atman shows many stages of 
development. Originally He meant the cosmic ego, 
which later vanished, leaving only indeterminate, infi- 
nite, and inarticulate substance. From this cosmic 
principle the Hindu sought to deduce this world. This 
deduction seemed to be the more necessary since this is 
an articulate world, full of words, expressions, and 
thoughts, while Atman is indeterminate and inarticu- 
late. This chasm between Atman and the world the 
Hindu bridged with Brahma, the holy word, accom- 
panying the sacrificial rites. Brahma, or the logos, be- 
came the second cosmic force, and then united with At- 
man to form one cosmic principle. Both as a oneness 
represent the physical and the logical principle of the 

Just as Spinoza called thinking the son of God, so did 
the ancient Hindus regard Brahma, the logical principle, 
as the first-born in this world. In this Atman-Brahma 
idea, ancient Hindu thought found its kindling-point 
and anchor ground. It, too, is no more a Deity in the 
theological meaning of the term than is Spinoza's Deus. 


It is a mystical cosmic principle, a dead God. It does 
not demand that man pray to, adore, or venerate it. It 
does not pretend to be man's teacher and guide. At- 
man-Brahma means "I am the all," "I am the cosmos," 
and is expressed in the formula Tat Tvam Asi, * c Thou 
art that," In this recognition man loses the feeling of 
limitation and finiteness, and feels himself to be a part 
of the infinite whole, a link in the infinite chain. He is 
at one with the world and with God, and hence need not 
face them in opposition. There is no inside or outside, 
no subject or object. The world is a oneness which man- 
ifests itself in variety. None of the parts is isolated from 
the whole. God's relationship to the world is identical 
with inner ground and outer manifestation. 

Atman-Brahma is in the final analysis the identity of 
man with the world and its soul. It is often referred to 
in the Upanishads as Karya Brahma, the nature of 
Brahma, or what Spinoza would call natura naturans, 
as distinguished from Karana Brahma, or natura natura- 
ta. This Brahma has all the properties of Spinoza's 
substance and is the true En Kai Pan. He is the infinite 
in all things finite, and is eternal in all things fugitive. 
He is the ultimate and highest reality. 

This conception presupposes a type of knowledge 
which cannot possibly be empirical in nature. The 
senses cannot possibly furnish us with the truth of the 
absolute. Empiric knowledge is only fragmentary in 
character. Only knowledge of the whole, which is creat- 
ed intuitively, can furnish us with truth. Only intuitive 
knowledge makes the unheard become heard, the unper- 
ceived perceived, and the unknown known. This form 
of knowledge also enables man to grasp the highest real- 
ity, frees him from passion and suffering, and unites his 


soul with eternity. It is man's greatest spiritual treas- 
ure. This theory of knowledge is common to all mysti- 
cism, including Spinozism. 

What did the intuitive knowledge of the Hindu create 
for him ? By it he visualized a God deprived of all con- 
tact with reality. Atman-Brahma is as remote from 
reality as the Deus of Spinoza. He, too, is above joy 
and sorrow, anger and worry, for He is will-less and 
thoughtless and hence dead. As such He is in no way 
correlated to man, nor can He be concerned with or op- 
posed to man. In Western religiosity, however, man 
and God are pictured as being in opposition to each 
other. The myths of Prometheus and of Heraclitus in 
ancient Greece, as well as the myth of the flood in the 
Bible, testify to an intense conflict between man and 
God. Even Christianity stresses the contradistinction 
between man and God. In the individualistic West, 
God is endowed with personality, which creates a state 
of tension between Himself and man. This conflict be- 
tween God and man gives birth to ethics. In ancient 
India, however, God, constituting only eternal being 
and bereft of all personality, does not contain the possi- 
bility of ethics. 

The Hindu conception of a cosmic principle by way of 
a purely mental process, not inspired by reality, was the 
first but not the only instance of its kind in history. 
The early acceptance of this doctrine, whose authorship 
was anonymous, by the Hindu people is powerful evi- 
dence that less than it was the theory of one man, it was 
the metaphysical tendency and aspiration of the entire 
people. The pantheism and monism expressed in the 
Atman-Brahma doctrine were destined to become the 
most creative religious and philosophical principle in 


the history of the Aryan race. They stimulated the en- 
tire religious and philosophical process in the East as 
well as in the West. It should be noted that this Hindu 
pantheism and monism, although mysticism incarnate, 
operates with logical categories rather than with similes 
and symbols. Therein it differs from the mysticism of 
the West, which kindles not in the intellect but in nature 
and expresses itself not in categories but in symbols. 
From the very inception of the cultural process in 
India, both its starting-point and goal were different 
from what they were in the Occident. In the West the 
object of all philosophical meditation was man and his 
welfare, in the East it was man and his salvation. In 
the West there was a sharp border line between philo- 
sophic and religious thought, but in the East the two 
blended into one. In the West mysticism was a mysti- 
cism of nature, in the East it was a mysticism of the 
mind. In the West philosophy and religion kindled in 
nature, in the East they originated in the human soul. 
In the West man was man's main concern, in the East 
an abstract cosmic principle was his chief interest. 
Hence, Eastern philosophy is rich in metaphysical specu- 
lation, but is poor in sociology and ethics. In compari- 
son to Eastern subtlety of mind, the most intricate met- 
aphysical system in the West is elementary and primi- 
tive. In the West most of the philosophical systems 
conclude with God, in the East they conclude with no 
God. In the West philosophers concentrate their intel- 
lectual energies to prove the existence of God, but in the 
East they devote themselves to prove the existence of 
no God- In the West atheism is still the shocking ex- 
ception, in the East it is accepted as a matter of course, 
for it is not a vital problem. 


Western philosophy is theistic and Eastern atheistic. 
However, the atheism of the West cannot be compared 
to that of the East, for while the first represents the 
height of impiety, the second constitutes the deepest 
piety. In the West the central problem of religion is 
God, in the East redemption. In the West redemption 
is based upon belief as expressed in the Tertullian max- 
im, "Credo quia absurdum est" "I believe because it is 
absurd." In the East not belief but recognition is the 
road to salvation. A Tertullian in India would be in- 
conceivable, for there ignorance is coequal with eternal 
damnation. In the West the poor in spirit are blessed 
and man can be both ignorant and pious at the same 
time, for there piety presumes ignorance. In the East, 
however, there is no salvation without recognition, and 
no redemption without knowledge. There piety pre- 
sumes not ignorance but intellect. Nevertheless, man's 
approach to the world in the West is intellectual and in 
the East moral. In the West all cosmic speculations 
kindle in curiosity and recognition, but in the East they 
originate in the yearning for salvation. In the West the 
problems of nature, man, and God weighed heavily upon 
man's mind, while in the East he was concerned mainly 
with guilt and merit, punishment and reward. 


One of the central ideas of ancient Hindu thought is 
the transmigration of the souls and the theory of sub- 
sequent effects of action called Karman. From time im- 
memorial the Hindu believed that every individual 
moves forward toward new existences after death, when 
he will either enjoy the fruits of a meritorious, or suffer 
for a sinful, life. Every Hindu philosopher, with but few 


exceptions, acquiesced in this doctrine. The basic idea 
of the transmigration of the soul is the belief that un- 
merited misfortune can befall no one. However, since 
daily life shows that the bad prosper and the good suf- 
fer, it was assumed that the good and bad deeds of for- 
mer existences are rewarded or expiated during the pres- 
ent life of the individual. In view of the continued suf- 
fering of man, it must be assumed that he has gone 
through unlimited existences in the past. 

The cycle of life, known in Hindu terminology as 
Samsara, has no beginning and hence no end. There- 
fore, this Samsara is eternal and no deed remains either 
unrewarded or unexpiated, "For as among a thousand 
cows a calf can find its mother, so a previously done 
deed follows after the doer," says a Hindu sage. Man's 
actions thus become the cause of the eternal cycle, and 
in a certain sense even fashion the cosmic principle. It 
is action which is the cause of the continuation of life. 
If man would not act, reward or punishment would be- 
come unnecessary and life, which is identical with sin, 
would come to a standstill. But what is the cause of 
action? Both Buddha and Spinoza gave the same an- 
swer desire. This desire or will is an a-moral principle; 
it is blind, sinful, and ignorant. So long as this principle 
remains in operation, so long will Samsara, or the eternal 
cycle, continue. Thus, because of the necessity of Sam- 
sara, man was condemned to eternal damnation. 

The ancient Hindu was satisfied with the eternity of 
Samsara, for his yearning for salvation caused him to 
seek a way out of this dilemma. This solution he found 
in recognition or knowledge. Only knowledge saves. 
Through knowledge to salvation is the central theme of 


almost every philosophical school of thought of ancient 

The main problem of ancient Hindu thought was not 
what is the world and its phenomena, but what possi- 
bility is there to end suffering and sin. This problem 
necessitated an intense egotism and a profound selfish- 
ness. It was always my suffering, my sin, and my salva- 

The intellectual mysticism of ancient India posited a 
sin-laden nature, which it regarded as being intrinsically 
bad, identical with evil, and creative of suffering. Na- 
ture is blind and ignorant desire. Only through knowl- 
edge can it be overcome. The function of the intellect 
is to destroy will or desire and thus bring about salva- 
tion. This metaphysical conception of a great people 
only reflects its experience with nature, serpents, tigers, 


Atman-Brahma born in the jungle and Jehovah born 
in the desert were originally personalities and the incar- 
nation of anthropomorphism. Atman means self in con- 
tradistinction to non-self. He spells breath, soul, and 
reality. He means self-conscious ego towering high 
above things, beasts, man, and gods. He first appeared 
as a giant of nature, as a superman or super-God, 
equipped with will and desire, and the power to act and 
to choose. He was primarily the lord of the forces of 
the breath and the sovereign of all gods. He, too, like 
Jehovah, was the creator of all beings. However, with 
the growing fatigue of man under the tropical sun of 
India and the loss of his aggressiveness and individual- 
ity, Atman himself became less anthropomorphic, less 


personal, and less self-conscious. Slowly the living At- 
man was transformed into an abstract principle, a dead 
God. First He was depersonalized and then impersonal- 
ized. By a process of retrogression, He gradually be- 
came coequal with the cosmos and was spoken of as the 
whole of the world. His transformation from superego 
to pan corresponded with the change of the Hindu mind 
from dynamic individualism to static universalism. 

Concerned with destiny rather than with man, with 
fate rather than with nature, the ancient Hindu turned 
to universalism. The older he became, the less he un- 
derstood the single or the individual things. He recog- 
nized them as merely products of desire, as episodes in 
the eternal fate of coming and going, and as puppet 
plays of destiny. The single things, while meaningless 
metaphysically, are a source of physical and moral suf- 
fering. His devitalized personality could only see life 
as a curse to be overcome, which was man's main duty. 
The solution to the problem of life was to escape from 
life. In this morbid thought God died. The desire to 
overcome life is not compatible with a living God, who is 
interested in life and its perpetuation. The man who 
carries death in his heart cannot carry a living God in 
his soul. 

The Western Aryans were more fortunate in selecting 
lands of temperate climates for their dwelling-places. 
Their bodies were not weakened by a tropical sun and 
their will to live was not undermined by a fever-infested 
jungle. Their gods were not only living but actually 
frolicking. In contradistinction to the God of the 
jungle, who regressed from superpersonality to dead 
formula, the gods of the Aryans and Semites retained 
their personality, self-consciousness, intellect, and will 


during all the stages of their development. Even after 
Jehovah returned from the universe and from humanity, 
and chose one land and one people as the scene and cen- 
ter of His activity, and after His land was destroyed and 
His people dispersed. He still retained His personality 
although He shed His anthropomorphism. 1 

The ancient Hindu in his attempt to escape from life 
also sought to flee from a living God. The ancient Jew 
by clinging to life thereby clung to a living God. Atman- 
Brahma and Jehovah, therefore, constitute the only two 
basic God-ideas which were visualized by the two most 
religiously creative races in world's history. Both God- 
ideas mutually excluded each other, and represent the 
two extremes in the pantheon of gods. 

Upon Atman were showered all the attributes which 
religious genuis could bestow. He is eternal, infinite 
omnipresent, above and beyond life, death, pain, and 
suffering. He is the all of things the one and the all. 
Upon Jehovah, too, were showered all the attributes 
which religious genius could bestow. He, too, is eternal, 
infinite, the creator of all things, the lord of hosts, and 
the master of destinies. In addition He is the very in- 
carnation of intelligence, justice, mercy, and forgiveness. 
What bearing do the attributes of the living and the 
dead God have upon the world? The attributes of At- 
man-Brahma are the severest and most devastating crit- 
icism of this world. God is one and the whole, while the 
world is manifold and individual. God is above woe and 
suffering, the world is only a valley of tears. God is in- 
finite," life is finite. God is above birth and death, life is 

1 Maimonides, in his Guide to the Perplexed, states that we can know only the 
negative attributes of God that He is not finite and not corporeal, etc. This is 
tantamount to saying that although He is not an anthropomorphic, He is still a 
self-conscious God. 


a continuous process of living and dying. God is un- 
changeable, the world is changing. Hence, these attri- 
butes are a condemnation of life and a verdict against 
the world. 

The reverse is true of the attributes of Jehovah. God 
is good and He desires man to be good. He is just and 
merciful and He wishes man to be just and merciful. 
He is the incarnation of intelligence, and He is anxious 
that man's mind should function. He is full of forgive- 
ness, and He expects man to be full of forgiveness. His 
attributes are not only not a reflection upon the world, 
but actually an encouragement of the world. They are 
an inexhaustible source of optimism, and furnish man 
with a goal and aim in life "Eritis sicut deus" "Thou 
shalt be like God." 

Jehovah's interest in man produced a science of man 
ethics, jurisprudence, and politics. Just as the Bible is 
sociological, so are the Upanishads a-sociological. In 
them Atman-Brahma is the central figure, while in the 
Bible it is man. The Upanishads are preoccupied with 
the relationship of Atman to the world, which expresses 
itself in profound metaphysical speculations. They are 
the deepest expression of pure religiosity. In the Bible, 
however, metaphysical thoughts are scattered through- 
out, but do not represent the main content. Everything 
revolves and moves about man and his interests. The 
central problem is not God or His relationship to nature 
or to the world, but God's relationship to man. Man is 
His only care and worry to the exclusion of all other 
creatures. So intimately connected is He with him that 
He becomes his personal teacher and guides him along a 
definite path. This relationship of God to man Micah 
presses into the formula, "O man, God told you what is 


good." This relationship of God to man became the 
center of tension, from which the ethical genius of the 
prophets sprang forth. 

It thus becomes evident that just as a dead and a liv- 
ing God originate in two different worlds, so do they 
both give birth to two different worlds. The one con- 
ceives a bad and the other a good world, the one a pas- 
sive and the other an active world. The world of the 
Upanishads is as still and as petrified as cold lava, while 
the world of the Bible is reminiscent of the "field" spirit 
of Goethe. The realm of the Upanishads is a dying 
present, that of the Bible a living, flowering future. And 
so the living and the dead God slashed their way into 
immortality, the one by inspiring life and the other by 
extinguishing it. 


Hindu philosophy reached its height in the person of 
Sankara, who lived six hundred years after Christ. In 
him Hindu monism found its highest expression. His 
philosophy bears a startling resemblance to that of 
Spinoza. His monism was not oneness, but non-dual- 
ism. Only being, called sat, is true, unchangeable, un- 
modifiable, and without manifoldness. The single 
things which the naked eye beholds are merely optic 
illusions. They are maya> non-real. Sat, or being, is 
identical with Atman-Brahma and as such does not 
consist of any parts. It is absolute, necessary, indeter- 
minate, eternal, and infinite. This sat is the prototype 
of the substance of Spinoza. Through poor or false 
knowledge we establish a contact with the manifoldness 
of nature, which, in itself, is only an optic illusion. Only 
through the knowledge of the whole or true knowledge 
do we recognize oneness, Brahma. Therein Sankara 


anticipated Spinoza's theory of knowledge by a thou- 
sand years. Neither one explains the world; they only 
explain it away because they are acosmists, affirming 
Atman-Brahma or Deus and denying the world. 

It is typical of Western intellectuality that it seeks 
recognition for the sake of knowledge, just as it creates 
art for the sake of art. It is equally representative of the 
Eastern mind that it yearns for recognition for the sake 
of salvation. When Sankara speaks of recognition of 
being, he is not overwhelmed by an urge for theoretical 
knowledge, whether scientific or metaphysical, but by 
an unquenchable thirst for salvation. His monism, 
with all its consequences, belongs less in the domain of 
metaphysics than in the domain of redemption. His 
conception of being has no epistemological value for the 
westerner. Of what philosophical avail is it to know that 
being is unknowable, indivisible, pure, indeterminate, ab- 
solute, and infinite? What light is thereby shed upon the 
phenomena of nature and of life ? But to the easterner this 
conception of being is of great religious value, because it 
is the anchor ground of religiosity. 

To Sankara, being or sat is identical with perfection 
and hence with holiness. By a similar train of thought 
Spinoza identifies substance with God. Becoming, the 
world of the senses and phenomena, is sinful, but being 
or sat is holy. Only holiness, not sin, can become a de- 
sirable object of knowledge. Here is uncovered the root 
of the contempt of the mystic for empiric knowledge. 
It should be noted that the metaphysical and religious 
speculations of Sankara and Spinoza are purely intel- 
lectual without any admixture of emotionalism. This 
intellectuality of religious and mystical speculations 


created a subtle dialectic method in the East and a 
complicated geometric method in the West. 

Mysticism cannot be taught, for it can only be experi- 
enced. However, Sankara and Spinoza, with their intel- 
lectualistic and rationalistic methods, developed a sys- 
tem of mystical philosophy which can be acquired by 
learning. The usual expressions of mysticism, such as 
symbols, cults, music, and dancing, were utterly strange 
to their personalities. They gave expression to their 
mysticism in philosophical formulas. However, while 
Sankara's doctrines are the rule in the East, Spinoza's 
are the exception in the West. 

Monism was not the only religious expression of an- 
cient India. The adherents of the Samkyha school of 
thought, one of the most important philosophical groups 
in India, propounded the absolute dualism of mind and 
matter. Yet, even the adherents of this system regarded 
knowledge as only a means to salvation. Man can at- 
tain the highest aim of religiosity only if he possesses 
true knowledge of the dualism of matter and soul. Only 
this recognition can free the soul from the agony of the 
endless flow of existence and bring the eternal cycle to 
an end by abolishing the necessity of rebirth. 

All the systems of ancient Hindu philosophy were in- 
inspired by the same motive. Knowledge delivers, 
knowledge frees, only through knowledge is salvation 
possible. It is immaterial whether this knowledge is 
monism, dualism, theism, or atheism. Reason or knowl- 
edge, called vidaya, will free man from his burdens, 
worries, and suffering. "The cause of suffering is the 
desire to live and to enjoy the delights of the world, and 
in the last instance the ignorance from which the desire 


proceeds. The means of the abolition of this ignorance 
and therewith of suffering is the annihilation of that de- 
sire, renunciation of the world." This view was held by 
all the Hindu sages from times immemorial, and was the 
starting-point of Buddha's new religion. 

It has already been noted that Spinoza begins his 
system with the substance, without any preceding in- 
quiry as to its reality. From there he proceeds to the 
attributes and thence to the modi in order to explain the 
world away. Sankara proceeds in the same manner. 
Brahma, or being, requires no further proof for its exist- 
ence, because from it springs forth all possibility of 
thinking and recognition. To him intuitive and imme- 
diate recognition is the highest form of knowledge. He, 
too, visualizes the world sub specie aeternitatis. The to- 
tality of things he sees as an indivisible oneness, from 
which everything follows with mathematical necessity. 
All miracles and extraordinary events are as taboo to 
Sankara as they are to Spinoza, for to both everything 
happens only by absolute necessity. Both were engi- 
neers of fate who tried to incase it in immutable and 
unchangeable laws. It can thus be seen that the mon- 
ism of both Sankara and Spinoza is correlated to panthe- 
ism in equal measure, because both represent the same 
type of consciousness. 

As against the Hinduistic conception of knowledge, 
which makes reason an organ of death, the ancient He- 
braic idea of recognition or Deah, although correspond- 
ing to the Hindu Vidahya, has a different function to 
perform. Vidahya seeks to overcome life and the world, 
Deah strives to prolong life and to conquer nature. 
Vidahya leads to redemption from sin, Deah to freedom 
from error, stubbornness, and ignorance. Just as Vida- 


hya is a well of pessimism, Deah is an inexhaustible 
source of optimism. Vidahya recognizes the futility of 
life, Deah sees its worth. Vidahya is the negation and 
Deah the affirmation of the future. To the latter, life is 
not maya, an optic illusion, but God's creation and gift 
to man. 

In pre-Buddhistic Hindu thought desire, called karma, 
and action were considered to be the forces of darkness, 
the source of all suffering and evil. Man is moved to 
action by desire and no matter how he acts, he errs. Ac- 
tion, the necessary product of sinful desire, drives man's 
soul from existence to existence. Man is mortal except 
for desire or karma, because it is the cause of new exist- 
ences. Since it is the actual cause of the transmigration 
of the soul, it cannot possibly be the cause of salvation. 
Even a good action coming from a good desire is of no 
avail because it takes place in a world of finality. Every 
deed, no matter how good, prolongs and modifies this 
existence. Redemption, however, is above and beyond 
all finality. Its ultimate goal is to free man from life 
and the world, and to cause him to sleep a deep, dream- 
less sleep, free from all desire, lust, and pain. 

Just as the Hindu Vidahya is comparable to the 
Hebrew Deah, so can the Hindu karma be likened to the 
Hebraic maaseh, "action," "deed." Karma is the cause 
of suffering, maaseh the source of liberation. Karma 
was synonymous with sin, maaseh with purity. Both 
karma and maaseh perpetuated man's existence, but the 
first regarded it as a curse and the second as a blessing. 
The Occident accepted the conception of maaseh and 
rejected the idea of karma. Thus Goethe exclaimed: 

Nur wer strebend sich bemiiht, 
Den konnen wir erlosen. 


The dynamic West understood action to be not only the 
source of all progress, but also the meaning of the world. 

Desire and action are the two sources of evil which 
bind man to this world of finiteness, manifoldness, illu- 
sion, and misery, and pursue the soul from existence to 
existence. When Buddha formulated his doctrines, he 
took over bodily this popular view. He added nothing 
to it but merely drew its consequence, Buddhism, by 
which man redeems himself by escaping from both life 
and death. Buddha also drew the consequences of a 
dead God, because the problem did not concern him 
sufficiently to make an issue out of it. Man is left to 
work out his own salvation, which he can achieve only 
by recognizing this life as a vale of tears. The function 
of recognition is to destroy desire and thereby cause man 
to lose every interest in his fellow-man. It causes him 
to surrender his possessions and to exile himself to far- 
away lands, where he can suffer and expiate his sins and 
thus free himself from life. This physical freedom from 
kin and earthly wealth is already symbolic of his future 
spiritual freedom in a new existence. 

So did the ancient Hindu visualize regression as a prel- 
ude to redemption. All he sought from life was a means 
to escape from it. His destination became Nirvana, not 
being. Here we already stand upon Buddhistic soil. 


"What is wealth, honor, or lust of the senses?" asks 
Spinoza. The answer was that they are all optic illu- 
sions. Only in salvation is there genuine happiness. 
Twenty-three hundred years before him, Gautama 
Buddha, who examined life attentively and critically, 
gave almost the same answer to the foregoing question. 


To him life was only a meaningless process of coming 
and going, a valley of tears and suffering. According to 
tradition, his first contact with reality was through a 
series of excursions to the gardens of the city in which 
he beheld a typical picture of Hindu life. He saw a 
helpless derelict, a begging monk, a dying man, and a 
rotting cadaver. He was most impressed by the figure 
of the begging monk in whom he recognized the apothe- 
osis of deliverance from earthly travail. This contrast 
of suffering and redemption overwhelmed him with the 
desire to free himself from the ties of life. He abandoned 
his princely estate, his young wife and child, his rela- 
tives and friends, and began to live and preach a life of 
self-denial and asceticism. He sought freedom from de- 
sire, darkness, ignorance, and the narrowness of life. 
This release he found in the negation of everything that 
lives and breathes, for to him this is a world of illusion, 
suffering, pain, and futility. 

The gloom and pessimism of Buddha is best expressed 
in the Buddhistic "Sermon of the Mount/' known in 
Buddhistic literature as the address of Benares. 

This, ye mendicants, is the holy truth of suffering. Birth is 
suffering, age is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, 
united with the unpleasant is suffering, separation from the pleas- 
ant is suffering, and not attaining desire is suffering. These, ye 
monks, are the holy truth of the origin of suffering. It is the thirst 
which leads from rebirth to rebirth, including joy and desire, the 
thirst of lust, the thirst of becoming, the thirst of changeability. 
These, ye monks, are the holy truth of the elimination of suffering: 
the elimination of the thirst by totally destroying desire, by letting 
it go, by separating from it, by freeing one's self from it, by not 
granting it shelter. 

No other philosopher or religionist has ever expressed 
the doctrine of pessimism more powerfully than young 
Buddha. His pessimism is tantamount to nihilism, for 


it presupposes that existence has no raison d'etre^ that 
life is only misfortune and misery. It becomes our duty 
to transform this life into naught, for says Buddha: 
"Truth being originally naught must again become 
naught." Buddha did not originate this metaphysics of 
gloom, for he only represents the highest crystallization 
of ancient Hindu thought. However, he did draw the 
consequences of all the great Hindu doctrines propound- 
ed before him, and thought them through to their bitter 
end. Buddha synthesized ancient Hindu thought in the 
same manner as Spinoza synthesized formal modern 
thought. Buddha became the greatest religionist of all 
times by applying speculations of the Upanishads to 
pragmatic life. Rhys David, one of the foremost Indo- 
logians of modern times, says, "There was not anything 
in the metaphysics or principles of Gautama which can- 
not be found in the one or the other of the orthodox 
systems, and a great deal of his morality could be 
matched from earlier or later Hindu books." Olden- 
berg, another eminent Buddha scholar, also admits that 
Buddha acquired the bent of his religious thought and 
feeling from his spiritual ancestors. 

Yet, Buddha, religionist and mystic, was also a ration- 
alist, who more than any of his predecessors or succes- 
sors systematized his religious views. He annihilates the 
will by the intellect, by teaching that only through 
knowledge can life be overcome. Thus, the intellect be- 
comes an agent of death. Even Sankara, the greatest 
of Hindu philosophers, to whose intellectual subtlety 
there is scarcely any analogy in the annals of white 
man's thought, did not succeed in transforming the in- 
tellect into an organ of death, as did the prince of the 
jungle. But not only did Buddha teach how to escape 


from life, but also how to flee from death. "To live on 
earth is weariness and there is no bliss beyond either." 

Although tradition attributes the origin of his pessi- 
mism and nihilism to a sudden contact with miserable 
reality, one must not consider him to be an empiricist. 
His doctrine of suffering has deep metaphysical roots. 
"Now this is the noble truth of the origin of suffering," 
his disciples quote him as saying. "Verily it is the crav- 
ing thirst that causes the renewal of becomings, that is 
accompanied by sensual delights and seeks satisfaction, 
now here, and now there; that is to say, the craving for 
the gratification of the senses or the craving for wealth." 
Twenty-three hundred years later Spinoza sang the 
same melody. 

The transient is painful only the eternal spells hap- 
piness. The transient means bondage, slavery, an eter- 
nal coming and going. It means birth, adolescence, ma- 
turity, age, decay, and death. But in the eternal there 
is no limitation, no finiteness, no change, and, therefore, 
no pain. "There are three things, O King, which you 
cannot find in the world, that which, whether conscious 
or unconscious, is not subject to decay and death, that 
quality of anything which has nothing permanent, and 
that thing which is possessed of being." 

If only the eternal is reality, it necessarily follows that 
everything subjective is not real. Hence, Buddha de- 
duced that nothing on earth is self and everything is 
anatta, not-self. Only the intellect can distinguish be- 
tween self and not-self. Ignorance and desire thus be- 
come synonymous. 

By viewing life as an eternal process of becoming, 
Buddha visualized the order of things with a Heraclitic 
eye. Being, he said, is an optic illusion; only becoming 


possesses some reality. Life is but a series of changes 
and transmutations and is impermanent. Empiric truth 
based upon the impermanent is dubious truth. Buddha 
thereby subscribed to Heraclitus' epigram that one can- 
not twice wade through a stream. Only the flux of 
things is steady; only change is real. This change, while 
it is the steady factor in the flux of phenomena, is not 
objective reality. We distinguish between the infant 
and the babe, the youth and the man, but actually 
they are as identical as the seed and the tree growing 
out of it. Only the flux gives the appearance of an unin- 
terrupted identity, and creates the impression that the 
universe is a permanent existence. This life, which is 
and is not simultaneously, has no creator. There are 
acts but no actor; deeds, but no doer; events, but no 
eventuator; song, but no singer. We are all slaves to the 
immutable, unchangeable laws of causation, which are 
the basis and origin of all this continuity. Whatever 
exists arises from cause and conditions, is impermanent 
and hence must perish. All that is born must die. All 
the single component things must grow old and disap- 
pear. Everything is determined and predetermined, 
destined and predestined, by pre-existing conditions. 

The critical mind of Buddha understood that the gen- 
eral law of causation does not explain or include all the 
phenomena of life. Therefore, like Spinoza, he resorted 
to a theory of external and internal causation. We may 
often fail to understand external causation, because our 
knowledge is limited and confined to the interrelation 
of the phenomena. We are, however, absolutely certain 
that internal causation is in operation, and that our will 
determines our acts. Will or karma is the source and 
kindling-point of all our actions and is the only reality. 


"Everything that exists, exists by reason of cu-piditas" 
says Spinoza. 

Although Buddha insisted that the universe is gov- 
erned by necessity and causation, his conception of cau- 
sation is much more refreshing than that of Spinoza. 
His causation, far from excluding evolution, presup- 
poses it because its effects are not the mechanical suc- 
cession of motion, but organic evolution in which one 
state is developing itself to another state. In a certain 
sense this evolution is actually creative, for it necessi- 
tates growth and the operating of the inner forces, in 
which we behold something that grows out of the seed. 
Hence, the world is one continuous, organic develop- 
ment, and not a series of chance phenomena without any 
inner unity. 

But while Buddha and Spinoza disagree about causa- 
tion, they agree about acosmism. Buddha completely 
denies the phenomenal world, and Spinoza causes it to 
be absorbed by the noumenal world. But if the world is 
not reality, whether because it is flatly denied or is ab- 
sorbed by another world, the problem of the prime mov- 
er and planner does not arise. While Spinoza sees no 
plan in the fabric of nature, Buddha, although he con- 
siders it to be a mighty maze, admits that it is not alto- 
gether planless. But this plan has no planner or maker, 
for there is no beginning or end. The universe is ruled 
by a definite and immutable order called pallie, the 
process of eternal motion, and all life is a demonstration 
and manifestation of this law. 

Buddha was one of the greatest rationalists of history 
and hence dogma was strange to his mind. In this re- 
spect he was intellectually more virtuous than Spinoza. 
While despising empiric knowledge, which is derived 


from the senses, he was noncommittal about the abso- 
lute. If there is an absolute, it is unknowable, and can- 
not become the object of knowledge. Our mind, being 
hemmed in by five senses, cannot demonstrate some- 
thing which is above and beyond the senses. Buddha 
refused to subscribe to such a dogma as Spinoza's sub- 
stance. However, it must not be assumed that Buddha 
had a negative attitude to any doctrine of metaphysical 
reality. On the contrary, he recognized some perma- 
nent force beyond the flux of the phenomena. Yet his 
lack of outspokenness about metaphysical principles 
earned for himself the reputation of being an atheist. This 
insinuation is ill founded. Buddhism is a-theistic, that 
is to say, its center of gravity is not Deity and is not 
correlated to Deity. However, it is not atheistic, that is 
to say, denying Deity. Buddha's mind was too subtle 
to consider this world as a wild devil's dance, or as a 
product of a crazy caprice of fate. He guessed an ulti- 
mate reality, which he indicated in his admonition to his 
monks, "There is an unborn, an unoriginated, an un- 
made, an uncompounded. Were there not, mendicants, 
there would be no escape from the world of the born, the 
originated, the made, and the compounded." By giving 
man a ray of hope, redemption became theoretically pos- 
sible. This in itself refutes the charge that Buddha was 
an atheist. But Spinoza, not offering man any hope, be- 
cause of his implicit denial of an extramundane reality, 
thereby exposed himself to the accusation of atheism. 

Just as Buddha did not dogmatize about metaphysi- 
cal reality, so did he not dogmatize about the soul. Life, 
being impermanent, is doomed to destruction. Con- 
sciousness, consisting of feeling, perception, and intelli- 
gence, which is constantly changing, is also transitory. 


That which is transitory and hence evil cannot be the 
eternal or soul, for we know nothing about it. This the- 
ory has a much more modern ring than the ideas of those 
psychologists who attempt to locate the soul in some 
part of the body, in the nervous system, or in the brain. 

Buddha repudiated and discarded the conception of 
the individual ego, and denied the reality of the phe- 
nomenal self. The object with which we identify our- 
selves is not true self, but something transitory and con- 
demned to destruction. Since the world and the individ- 
ual ego are in a state of flux, how can transitory being 
say "I am not transitory, I am permanent; I am not 
changeable, I am eternal"? Not for the suggestion of a 
moment are we the same, for we are constantly subject 
to continuous change. So did Buddha raise a Heraclitic 
voice, which caused scholars to consider Heraclitus as 
having been orientated by the East. 

The rationalist Buddha was primarily a critic, who 
vacillated between skepticism and criticism. He re- 
fused either to negate or to affirm the essence of things, 
stating that it was beyond man's innate ability to do so. 
Oldenberg's view that Buddha would not commit him- 
self to anything positive, for reasons of policy or for lack 
of courage, is not tenable. Buddha cannot be charged 
with intellectual cowardice. Any thinker who draws the 
bitter consequences from certain premises so closely and 
sharply must be possessed of great courage. One must 
also remember that in ancient India the problem of 
God was not the measure of orthodoxy or the central 
problem of philosophy. In saying little about the ulti- 
mate reality, Buddha merely followed the traditions of 
his country. Furthermore, as a Salvationist, he was 
not concerned with purely theoretical problems which 


had no bearing upon his doctrine. Like all great re- 
ligionists, he was also a pragmatist and hence limited 
his speculations to his own doctrine. 

It must not be assumed, however, that Buddha com- 
pletely ignored the problem of ultimate reality. His 
conception of Nirvana demonstrates that he had some 
conception of an ultimate metaphysical reality. Nir- 
vana to him was not a lapse into the void, but a positive 
return of the earthly self to a metaphysical self. How- 
ever, the essence of this metaphysical self he never ex- 
plained. He maintained that to make any positive as- 
sertions about it would transcend the frontiers of our 
knowledge, which his theory of recognition would not 
permit him to do. 

The central theme of his philosophy was the origin 
and the elimination of suffering, which is imbedded in 
his holy truths of the principle of suffering. "These, ye 
mendicants, are the noble truths of the origin of suffering. 
The two holy truths are these: the elimination of suf- 
fering, the elimination of the thirst by totally annihilat- 
ing desire, by giving it up, by freeing one's self from it, 
by separating one's self from it, by not granting it any 

It can thus be seen that Buddha considers life with its 
vicissitudes and turns of destiny as an elemental mis- 
fortune from which man must try to escape. As the 
will to live is the ground of existence, it must be annihi- 
lated. What is the origin of this will to live, of this 
thirst for existence? It is the law of causation, the link- 
age of cause and effect, which unites the parts with the 
whole. This doctrine of causation was the first deliber- 
ate attempt to mold destiny into definite forms, and to 


forge fate into definite laws in order to present a plausi- 
ble world-picture. 

Buddha deduced the phenomena of life from igno- 
rance, which he calls non-knowledge. Personality and 
corporeality originate in recognition of the six objects, 
that is to say, the five senses and thinking. From these 
objects emanate relationships (between the senses and 
objects); from relationships originate feeling; from feel- 
ing, thirst; from thirst, existence; from existence, becom- 
ing; from becoming, birth; from birth, age and death, 
pain and lamentation, suffering, worry, and despair. 
Vision and recognition kindle in non-knowledge, and the 
elimination of the one means the destruction of the oth- 
er. The annihilation of recognition carries with it the 
collapse of the chain of life beginning with personality 
and corporeality and ending with suffering, worry, and 
despair. Since knowledge is the only medium with 
which to overcome life objectively, non-knowledge is the 
origin of all existence. Subjectively, however, con- 
sciousness is the origin of life and is called "recognition" 
in Buddhistic terminology. This long and obscure 
formula is more fully explained in a dialogue between 
Buddha and his favorite disciple Ananda. Buddha asks 
his adherent: 

"If recognition, Ananda, would not sink into the womb, would 
corporeality and name arise?" 

"No sir." 

"And if recognition, Ananda, would have abandoned the womb 
after it penetrates there, would name and corporeality or birth par- 
ticipate in this life?" 

"No sir." 

"And if recognition, Ananda, would be lost from the boy or the 
girl while they are still young, would name and corporeality grow 
and increase?" 

"No sir." 


Thus Buddha established that consciousness, being 
the cause of all subjective life by being suppressed at its 
very conception, would end life. 

All life manifests itself in six elements, namely, earth, 
fire, water, air, ether, and recognition. This latter ele- 
ment is superior to the other five, for it is undemon- 
strable, infinite, and all-glowing. This force is the con- 
necting link between the various existences during the 
migrations of the soul. Some of the Buddhistic holy 
texts offer a slightly different version of the order of 
causality. They say that corporeality gives birth to rec- 
ognition. Man's body is always his own, running 
through different existences. His body is the permanent 
element in the flux of existences. Each new existence is 
caused by the good or bad deeds of a former existence, 
from which no one can escape, although it may not come 
to an immediate fruition. It will always follow the doer 
no matter where he be, whether "in the midst of the 
ocean or on the mountain," and determine his fate in his 
new existence. Thus, corporeality, name or personality 
and recognition or consciousness, are interlinked and 

Karma or action is the source of all becoming and 
leads to the process in which recognition connects itself 
with corporeality and name. It is in this connection 
that the spirit finds its body and the body its spirit, and 
it is here that the subjective and objective worlds meet. 
This union produces the six objects which face the six 
domains of the outer world, namely, light, sound, smell, 
taste, touch, and determinism, or damaha. Just as the 
body faces the eye, so do the spirit and mind face the 
damaha. The six objects develop touch, which in turn 
gives birth to feeling. Feeling produces thirst, which 


leads from rebirth to rebirth. Man exists because he 
thirsts for life, and he suffers because he thirsts for joy. 
Only those who can overcome their thirst can conquer 
pain and suffering. 

Some Buddhistic commentators identify thirst with 
the state of being seized, an entirely passive state, from 
which they deduce the phenomena of life. From it 
arises becoming and from becoming birth, age, death, 
suffering, worry, and despair. This version intensifies 
the gloom of Buddhism, for it transforms man into a 
plaything of fate. 

It should be noted that in the Buddhistic doctrine the 
category of non-knowledge or avijja y the most basic 
principle of life, is the primary cause of things. But 
what is this mysterious avijja? It is only the maya of 
the old Brahminic theosophy, the optic illusion of 
things. But while Brahminism considered reality as 
being, Buddhism regarded reality as non-being. The 
aim of life became non-being, and can be attained only 
by the knowledge of the four holy truths, which are: not 
to know suffering, its origin, its elimination, and the way 
leading to it. Only through this knowledge can man be 
redeemed and attain Nirvana. 


The doctrine of causation, the center of gravity in 
Buddha's philosophy, is interwoven with his theory of 
determinism, which assumes the form of fatalism. In 
its main features it resembles that of Spinoza. Man is 
tied to predestined forces, from which there is no escape, 
was Spinoza's conviction. Man has within himself the 
possibility of redemption, was Buddha's belief. His four 
holy truths are an attejtnpt to attain salvation by pierc- 


ing the iron wall of the law of causation. The possibility 
of escape from a predestined life to Nirvana implies a 
theory of being which is less rigid and less immutable 
than that of Spinoza. Thus, Buddha says, "The reality 
of things is to be found in the oscillations between being 
and non-being." This is the content of existence. The 
world is because it is, and it is not at the same time. 
For the simple the world is, and for the wise it is not. 
When it is, it is the source and origin of suffering. When 
it is not, it is redemption and salvation. The worlds 
of Buddha and Spinoza are prisons, but in the one there 
is a crack, and the other is hermetically sealed. 

For all pragmatic purposes, becoming and not-being is 
of primary importance. It is the eternal coming and 
going that gives rise to suffering, which is not individual 
in nature but is suffering per se. Only life is coequal 
with suffering, but as you and I are parts of life, we 
both suffer. In addition, in this stream of Samsara, 
there are no real you and I, but only an illusion of both. 
Only the ignorant conceive personality as something 
real. But, if so, what is real about man? Buddha's an- 
swer was the all of the things about man and not any- 
thing in particular. This denial of the personality as a 
particular thing included his conception of the soul. 
His doctrine of the personality is best demonstrated in 
the famous dialogue between the monk Negasena and 
King Milinda. 

The king asks the holy Negasena: 
"How does one know you and what is your name, sir?" 
"I am called Negasena, O great king. But Negasena is only a 
name, an expression, a mere word, but not the subject." 
The king is greatly astonished and asks the holy Negasena: 
"Is, sir, your hair Negasena?" 
"No, O great king." 


"Is, sir, corporeality Negasena?" 

"No, great king." 

"Are the feelings Negasena?" 

"No, great king." 

"Are the imagination, conception, or recognition Negasena?" 

"No great king." 

"Is, sir, the combination of corporeality, feelings, imagination, 
and recognition Negasena?" 

"No, great king." 

"Oh, sir, outside of corporeality and feelings and imagination, is 
there no Negasena?" 

"No, great king." 

"Wherever and whenever I ask you, sir, I find nowhere Nega- 

"A mere word, sir, is only Negasena." 

"But what then is Negasena?" 

The king is greatly astonished and does not know how to answer. 
To explain his point, Negasena questions the king. 

"Are the wheels your chariot?" 


"Is the yoke your chariot?" 


In similar fashion the king is forced to admit that the 
other parts are not coequal with the chariot. So, an- 
swers Negasena, just as all the things of which the 
chariot consists are called chariot, so are all the parts of 
man his skin, bones, hair, corporeality, imagination, 
conception, and recognition called by a certain name, 
although it is not the subject in the strict meaning of the 
term. It is only in this sense that Buddha denies the 
souL To him, as well as to Spinoza, the soul is subject 
to the processes of coming and going. It is only one of 
the modi, one of the single things. Buddha, too, would 
say not "I think," but "It thinks in me"; not "I feel," 
but "it feels in me"; for life is only the state of being 
seized. It is an illusion a figure of speech. 

Life to Buddha consists only of two sides eternal 


restlessness and change, caused by causation, and eter- 
nal peace. Nirvana, caused by redemption. Since the 
realm of causation is the realm of suffering, redemption 
is necessarily the state of being wherein causation does 
not prevail. This realm is Nirvana, not being, which is 
a condition of being rather than extension in space. 
Life, which is linked to causation, can be compared to an 
eternal fire, from which the sage can save himself by ex- 
tinguishing it and by quenching his thirst or will to live. 
Only knowledge will bring life to a standstill and will 
prevent man from wandering from existence to exist- 

How to overcome this world of suffering and illusion 
is indicated in the fourth of the holy truths, which rep- 
resents Buddha's system of ethics. 

"This, ye mendicants, is the holy truth of the way to 
eliminate suffering. It is this holy eightfold path, which 
is right belief, right resolving, the right word, the right 
deed, right life, right striving, right remembering, and 
right meditating." 

Although this principle of ethics appears to be the 
incarnation of innocence, it yet includes a rigorous sys- 
tem of abstinence and asceticism. While this eightfold 
path forms the general basis of a rigorous discipline of 
life, its actual ethical principles are reduced to three 
in number righteousness, meditation, and wisdom. 
These categories are often compared with the three sta- 
tions of a journey, whose final destination is salvation. 
Righteous life, receiving its inspiration from pious wis- 
dom, is the most basic virtue of Buddhistic ethics. 
Righteousness is based on wisdom. Ethics and moral- 
ity are not based upon God or upon any other meta- 
physical principle, but are inspired by the vision of the 


goal Nirvana. In the Buddhistic as well as in the 
Spinozistic world-picture, morality is linked with use- 
fulness. Morality is rewarded and immorality punished. 
Although no one commands or admonishes man to be 
good, yet he follows the path of righteousness. He will 
benefit by it and his life will be attended by joy. 

Buddhistic ethics, being purely utilitarian in charac- 
ter, contains no positive commandments. Righteous- 
ness dissolves itself into a series of recommendations in 
the form of suggestions, known as the fivefold justice, 
which are: not to kill a living creature, not to seize the 
property of another, not to touch the wife of another, 
not to say an untruth, and not to partake of intoxicating 
beverages. A sixth recommendation, not to marry, is 
made exclusively to monks. The suggestive character 
of Buddha's ethics can best be seen from his instruction 
to a mendicant, that he can participate in righteousness 
by omitting to kill living creatures, by lifting the staff, 
and by laying down the weapon. It is equally charac- 
teristic that Buddha does not command the mendicants 
not to slander, but merely suggests that they refrain 
from uttering slander. 

All ethics implies activity, but those of Buddha con- 
note passivity. Ethics require commission, Buddha sug- 
gests omission. He teaches an order of self-denial and 
a discipline of asceticism. Ethics is concerned with man 
exclusively, Buddha with living creatures. The goal of 
ethics is human welfare, that of Buddha salvation by 
abstinence. It can be attained only if you will not steal, 
kill, slander, speak falsehoods, or covet your friend's 
wife, and if you will not follow the lust of your heart, and 
if you will not quench your thirst. Ethics teaches to 
love man, Buddha not to hate him- Ethics teaches to 


help man, Buddha not to harass him. Even his more 
positive ethical recommendations, such as to forgive 
your enemy, have a utilitarian motive. If you will not 
hate your enemy, his hatred of you will die. It is thus 
useful not to hate your adversary, because forgiveness is 
advantageous. Western ethics commands man to give 
to the poor, Buddha to give to the monks. This is the 
only positive commandment in Buddhistic ethics. 2 

Buddha summed up his ethical ideals in the following 
words spoken to the nun Gautami, "Whatsoever teach- 
ing thou art sure, it leads to passion and not to peace, 
to pride and not to humility, to the desiring of much and 
not to the desiring of little; to the love of society and not 
to the love of solitude, to idleness and not to earnest striv- 
ing, to a mind hard to pacify and not to a mind easy to 
pacify, that Gautami is not the law." 

Buddhism, not being concerned with man and his wel- 
fare, was equally disinterested in man and his interests. 
Hence, jurisprudence, politics, and economics were not 
within the purview of Buddhistic ethics. Its indiffer- 
ence to the caste system, which was iniquity personified, 
can thus be understood. Buddha was indifferent to the 
status quo. He did not condemn the burdensome and 
demoralizing domestic rituals, although they were mean- 
ingless to him. Only salvation, redemption, and the elimi- 
nation of suffering were his concern, Nirvana his goal. 
Nirvana he compared to the expiring flame, and said 

a "Meditative, calm, full of kindly feeling takes for the early Buddhist the place 
of prayer. It is a condition which is aimed at by both the Yogi and the Buddhist 
adept for the attainment of peaceful, serene aloofness, leading to the highest es- 
tate" (H. W. Hopkins, Ethics in India> p. 136). 

"The original Buddhist has been called an egotistic Hedonist. The term is harsh, 
but at any rate his whole concern was with his private salvation, which lay in his 
own hands. To secure that salvation he became moral, serene, kindly disposed" 
, p. 143). 


that it was a state beyond pain and sorrow. It is the 
very end of all physical life. It is the emancipation from 
everything reminiscent of flesh. It is absolute extinc- 
tion, beyond all being and becoming, and outside the 
pale of causation. But what Nirvana means in positive 
terms, Buddha failed to explain. 

Buddhistic literature describes two types of Nirvana. 
The first type is upadhisesa, in which only human pas- 
sion is extinct, and the second is anupadhisesa, in which 
the whole being is extinct. Most European scholars, in- 
cluding Oldenburg, Rhys Davids, and Dahlke, are in- 
clined to the view that Nirvana means anupadhisesa, 
complete extinction. Most Hindu scholars, however, 
take the opposite view. "Whenever it is said that the 
people attain Nirvana in this world, the upadhisesa 
Nirvana is meant/' argues Radhakrishnan in his Indian 
Philosophy. This interpretation implies that Nirvana is 
only mental repose, which is free from the distress and 
strife of life, and is a state of positive blessedness. It is 
perfection and not annihilation. 

A restatement of the essence of Nirvana in positive 
terms would imply, first, an interest in metaphysics, 
and, second, the formulation of a dogma, neither of 
which was ever possessed by the Salvationist Buddha. 
The suggestion rather than the definition of Nirvana 
gave rise to varied speculations as to its nature and es- 
sence. In early Buddhistic literature it is described as 
a sleeping soul enjoying eternal rest and bliss, or as re- 
turning to the stream of being, which is unperturbed by 
the law of causation. Nirvana is a state of uncondi- 
tioned freedom, in which all positive existence is dis- 
solved. But whether it is transmundal or transcenden- 
tal has never been explained satisfactorily. Buddha 


never encouraged any speculations about Nirvana, be- 
cause it is beyond reality and hence unknowable. Never- 
theless, he often described it as a union with the cosmic 
principle, Brahma. As such it is identical with Spinoza's 
amor Dei intellectuahs. 

It can thus be seen that the main features of Spinoza's 
mysticism, with but few exceptions, can be retraced to 
Buddha, and his background, the Upanishads. If 
Buddha is not as God-intoxicated as Spinoza, and is less 
overwhelmed by Brahma than Spinoza by Deus, it is 
due to the fact that the central problem in Eastern 
philosophy is not God but salvation. 

Like Spinoza, Buddha, too, is an intellectualist and a 
rationalist. He, too, is a Salvationist; he seeks redemp- 
tion via the intellect. Both Spinoza and Buddha are 
determinists, who extend the law of causation to the 
realm of the spirit. Both explain desire as the origin of 
all life and both indicate how it may be overcome. Both 
are disinterested in man and are ethical utilitarians. 
Both are fatalists, who are overcome by the spirit of 
resignation. Spinoza's Deus is as dead and as imperson- 
al as Buddha's Brahma. Both are moralists and not 
ethicists, a-theists and not atheists. Both are univer- 
salists and acosmists denying the world and man. The 
resemblance between the basic ideas of Spinoza and 
Buddha is not obliterated because Spinoza begins with 
God and Buddha with suffering, or because Spinoza is 
concerned with metaphysics and Buddha with religios- 
ity. The difference in time, environment, climate, and 
topography of the two men gave each a different ap- 
proach to the same world-picture. The thoughts, views, 
and sentiments which Buddha expressed in long and 
boring dialogues Spinoza formulated in the nomencla- 


ture of Western philosophy. To both human life was 
only an elegiac episode in the cosmic order. Both repre- 
sent a tragic type of consciousness common to suffering 
humanity in the East as well as in the West. Both be- 
lieved that human life is only a typographical error of 
eternity, purposeless, aimless, useless, meaningless. To 
both life was a minus or an irrational magnitude, for 
they peered at it from the vantage point of a grave 
digger espoused to a midwife. 

Buddha etched his world-picture upon an Eastern 
canvas. Spinoza upon a Western screen. The one il- 
luminated it with proverbs, similes, legends, and pious 
meditations, and the other with geometric formula and 
logical categories. Buddha, pious soul that he was, left 
for man a needle hole of escape, but the embittered, ex- 
communicated Spinoza did not even grant him that com- 
fort. Two still, blessed islands, from which all life and 
its attending worry and pain are banished, are the final 
goals of Spinoza and Buddha. But these goals, pur- 
poses, and ends presuppose a-teleology. Such are the 
paradoxes of religiosity. 

As against this world-picture of universalism, pessi- 
mism, asceticism, and acosmism, there stands out in bold 
relief its reverse, the individualistic, theistic, optimistic, 
and anthropocentric world-picture created in the Ara- 
bian desert. Buddhism can best be understood by the 
westerner only by comparison with its reverse, ancient 
Hebraism. It will then become clear that in the last 
analysis only two types of religiosity, that of the jungle 
and that of the desert, are the content of the religious 
progress. All other types are only compromises, mix- 
tures, combinations, and syntheses. 


MAN, in the course of his religious experiences 
and struggles, has created but two types of 
religiosity: the transcendental and the im- 
manent, the personal and the pantheistic. The first be- 
gins with man, the second with the cosmos. In the one, 
man regards himself as the center of the universe, as the 
crown of creation. He gathers courage to take up the 
struggle for existence, and to conquer for himself a defi- 
nite position in life. But in the other, man beholds the 
universe and discovers his own insignificance. His mind 
becomes enveloped in gloom and pessimism. Life van- 
ishes from his horizon, and he sees only the monotony of 
the eternal process of coming and going. Life becomes 
so boring that he seeks to overcome it. 

From times immemorial these two types of religiosity 
have faced each other in hostility. Both formed the 
content of the history of religion, which in the course of 
time came to be expressed in two precise and definite 
formulas. Neither form of religious consciousness is 
confined to any given race, for both are deeply anchored 
in the physical world, in climatic and geographic con- 

The oldest type of pantheism, that of the Eastern 
Aryans, arose in the jungle, while the oldest form of 
monotheism, that of the ancient Hebrews, was born in 
the desert. The assumption is justified that there is 
some inner connection between pantheism and the jun- 



gle, and between monotheism and the desert. Whether 
specific topographic conditions, such as mountain and 
vale, stimulated the formation of these two types of re- 
ligious consciousness is only a matter of speculation. 
How the thought was born in man's mind that he is 
either a part of nature or apart from nature, either iden- 
tical with it or different from it, will never be definitely 
established. History has no laboratories, and religious 
ideas are not chemicals with which to experiment. We 
only know that the man of the jungle saw life in all its 
colors, while the man of the desert saw nothing, for 
there was nothing to be seen. In the jungle man was 
part of its colorful life, in the desert he was alone. There 
he felt his own ego more intensely and he became con- 
vinced that he was not a part of this vast sand expanse, 
but was something apart from it. He felt that He who 
created the sun, the desert, the sand, and himself was 
also a personality. The less life he saw about him in the 
desert, the more intensely did he feel his own ego. But 
the more life he saw about him in the jungle, the less 
was he aware of his own existence. Thus, the desert 
proved to be the cradle, and the jungle the grave, of the 

Man is either a part of or apart from nature, and sim- 
ilarly God is either being or ego. If He is ego, man is 
free and is the master of his own destiny; but if He is 
being, He Himself is chained to His own laws and man 
becomes only a slave of nature. If He is ego, He is a 
living God; but if He is being, He is a dead Deity. If 
He is being, life becomes meaningless, for it is one un- 
interrupted chain of suffering, one valley of tears. Man 
is subject to blind fate, from whose clutches he can never 
extricate himself. Human life has no meaning, purpose, 


or object and becomes merely a mechanical process of 
coming and going. At best its goal becomes Nirvana. 
If God is ego, man is free and his life meaningful. God 
is not chained to any laws and His freedom is as infinite 
as His life. The most solemn oath of the ancient He- 
brews was ChaiAdonoi, "As God liveth." God as being 
is disinterested in man, but God as ego is concerned 
chiefly with him. God as being cannot possibly have 
any attitude toward this world, for He is above and be- 
yond all joy, sorrow, and tragedy. God as ego is pos- 
sessed of will and intellect and is subject tp gladness, 
sadness, and misfortune. Nothing can stir the Brahma 
or the Atman of Buddha or the Deus of Spinoza, for they 
are both chained and bound. But the God of the an- 
cient Hebrews, the most tragic figure in the pantheon of 
ancient deities, is a free God facing a free and a living 
world. There is always a state of tension existing be- 
tween Him and the world of man, and between Him and 
the world of nature. 

The living God of Israel is the apotheosis of the tragic 
because He is the incarnation of defeat. His descent is 
the more overwhelming since He began His career not 
as a local Deity, but as a God of the cosmos and of all 
humanity. Even the very beginning of His career as 
narrated in the Old Testament is overwhelmingly tragic. 
He was alone in the infinite void, surrounded only by 
water, and He felt lonely. To overcome His solitariness, 
He separated the water from the land and created na- 
ture. He brought forth living creatures and thought 
that all His creations were good. His loneliness was now 
at an end, for He was no longer the God of a dead 
void, but the God of a living world. His realm was no 
longer that of deep darkness, but was now permeated 


with life and light. And yet all these works did not 
content him. Mountain and vale, stone and tree, fish 
and bird, monsters of land and of sea, could not sing 
His praises. He desired to be prayed to, praised, 
thanked, admired, loved, and feared. Only a being fash- 
ioned in His own image could satisfy His longing for 
recognition. "And God created Man in His own image 
.... male and female He created them/' 

Only upon man, the crown of creation, did He bestow 
His special blessing. But man disobeyed His injunc- 
tions, and to punish him He cursed him. "Cursed is the 
ground for thy sake. In toil shalt thou eat of it all the 
days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth 
to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the field. In the 
sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, till thou return- 
est unto the ground." 

Soon afterward man, who was created so that he could 
be like God, committed fratricide, the most outrageous 
of crimes. God was again defeated by His own creature 
and again He cursed him, "And now art thou cursed 
from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive 
thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest 
the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her 
strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be on the 
earth." But to the same extent that his maker expected 
goodness from him, man progressively increased in 
wickedness. And God said, "I will blot out man whom 
I have created from the face of the earth, both man and 
beast, both the creeping things and the fowl of the air, 
for it repenteth me that I have made them." He 
brought about the flood to destroy both man and nature, 
for nature too had become wicked. This decision is an 
expression of the fury of His defeat at the hands of His 


creatures. But having seen life and having listened to 
its voice, He could no longer face the void, and He said, 
"I will not again curse the ground for man's sake, for the 
imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nei- 
ther will I again smite any more everything living as I 
have done." Out of His interest in and love for man, 
God adjusted Himself to the natural in man. 

One may read the Old and even the New Testament 
from beginning to end and see in it first a defeated God, 
then a defeated people, and finally a defeated Messiah. 
The Old Testament is one tale of the continuous defeat 
of God. He is defeated by nature, He is defeated by 
man, and He is defeated and betrayed by His own peo- 
ple. In the end He sees His land destroyed, His people 
dispersed, and His temple burned. Such is the tragic ex- 
perience of the God of the Old Testament. But of such 
tragedy, Brahma and Atman, being dead deities, knew 
nothing. They were beyond victory and defeat and also 
beyond tragedy. 

The living God of the Old Testament is deeply con- 
cerned with man and his welfare. He makes him the 
obj ect of His only care and worry. He often changes His 
own decision and abides by that of man in order to please 
him. Thus, at first, He wanted man to eat only vegeta- 
ble food, but after the flood He permitted him to eat 
meat as well. He decided to annihilate His own people, 
but then because of the intervention of Moses He 
changed His plan. He commanded His people not to 
appoint a king, but later not only yielded but actually 
helped them to choose one. 

Both God and man possess a will, and the Old Testa- 
ment can be viewed as a permanent conflict between His 
will and that of man. But if man is dependent upon 


God, God is equally dependent upon man. Only to man 
can He reveal Himself and manifest His power. The 
deep-seated thought that God and man are bound to- 
gether by mutual ties ripened into the conception of a for- 
mal covenant between the two. God is bound to pro- 
mote man's welfare and man is obligated to do Him 
homage by being serviceable to his fellowman. If he 
breaks the covenant he thereby forfeits His favor and 
support. This alliance best characterizes God's interest 
in man and was consummated not because of a passing 
fancy, but because man is His only raison d'etre as a God. 
Even His interest in the universe is motivated by His 
interest in man, for all of creation was a posteriori, only 
a prelude to the creation of man. 

The Old Testament is a book of man and describes the 
eternal cycle of his life. In it one finds the first attempt 
at a philosophy of history, and the first clear conception 
of the oneness of the human race. "This is a book of the 
generations of man." This philosophy of history con- 
cludes with an eschatology, which pictures not the proc- 
esses of redemption or of salvation, but those of the re- 
construction of society with the Messiah as its central 
figure. The Old Testament is not concerned with the 
world beyond the hereafter or with abstract specu- 
lations. Its point of gravity is man, his future, and his 
fate, which is the concern of both man and God. What 
is man's future? "Thou shalt be like God," he was told 
from the very beginning. God became his guide in life 
and His attributes were to fashion man's actions. 

The Old Testament is a book of sturdy optimism and 
indulges but little in wailing that evil is the content of 
life, or that man's birth constitutes sin. It affirms life 
and unequivocally advocates its improvement and em- 


bellishment. This is the prevalent motive of Old Testa- 
ment ethics and is expressed in the phrase, "So that 
thou might live." All the ethical commandments were 
given to man so that his life should be prolonged and 
made secure. It is God's highest gift to man, and He de- 
sires him to take the best possible care of this offering. 
In man's orderly management of life, God is assured of 
the continuity and sensibleness of His creation. Man 
thus becomes the guardian and guarantor of God's 
work. This is the metaphysical anchor ground of Old 
Testament optimism. 

Old Testament optimism is not empiric in nature. 
The tragic experience of the God of the Old Testament 
and of His people certainly furnished no plausible rea- 
son for optimism. The God who drowned His own crea- 
tion, because of the evil with which it was permeated and 
the people whose forehead was branded with the symbol 
of defeat, still clung to the hope of victory. This super- 
abundance of optimism in the Old Testament, in con- 
tradistinction to the paralyzing pessimism of the great 
documents of ancient Hindu religiosity, is the eighth 
wonder of the world. It is metaphysically motivated 
and is organically interlinked and interwoven with the 
basic idea of a personal God, who is concerned with man 
and his future. This pulsating optimism testifies most 
clearly to the independence of man's spirit, and of the 
suzerainty of his mind. 

Optimism and intellectualism are spiritual twins. 
Every optimistic philosophy is intellectually motivated, 
while every pessimistic philosophy is voluntaristically 
inspired. Thus Leibnitz, the father of modern optimism, 
is also the founder of modern European intellectualism. 
Schopenhauer, the foremost representative of pessi- 


mism in modern Europe, begins his system with the sen- 
tence, "The world is my will and my illusion." To him, 
will was both a metaphysical and a cosmic principle. 
Old Testament monotheism, the incarnation of opti- 
mism, is also synonymous with intellectuahsm. Ancient 
Hebrew contains more synonyms for the term "intel- 
lect" than does any other language of antiquity. Just 
as the ancient Hindus and Greeks conceived of an ani- 
mated nature, so did the ancient Hebrews visualize a 
nature in the process of rationalization and humaniza- 
tion. To the present day the traditional Jew praises 
his maker, not only for having favored man, but 
also the rooster with reason. The doctrine of the pri- 
macy of intellect is one of the outstanding features of 
Hebraic thought throughout the ages. Not the belief in 
God, but the knowledge of God, is the essence of ancient 
Hebrew religiosity. "Know the God of thy fathers and 
honor him." The world will be full of the knowledge of 
God, visualized Isaiah. Maimonides epitomizes the doc- 
trine of the primacy of the intellect in Judaism by teach- 
ing that when in the hereafter man is brought before 
God, he will first be asked, "Did you study logics?" and 
only afterward will he be asked, "Did you study the 

The knowledge of the Old Testament, called Deah, 
is not identical with the Vdhya of the Upanishads. 
Vdhya leads to Nirvana, Deah to a prolonged life. 
Vdhya visualizes the world as the dwelling-place of suf- 
fering, Deah knows it as a good world, created by an in- 
telligent and merciful God. Vdhya smacks of the grave, 
Deah of the cradle, for Deah means both recognition and 
love. Deah ushers in the long day of life, Vdhya the 
long night of naught. 


Deah is the cornerstone of Old Testament ethics, in 
which man and not living creatures is the central theme 
and object. This ethics is correlated to logics in the 
same manner as is Platonic or Kantian ethics. It is re- 
plete with categorical imperatives, directed to and con- 
cerning man. "Thou shalt not kill" of the Decalogue 
means thou shalt not kill man. But the suggestion in 
Buddhism not to kill means not to kill any living crea- 
ture. The killing of any living creature is as much a sin 
as the killing of man. Nature is thus not elevated to the 
dignity of man, but man is degraded to the level of 
brute nature. Thus ethics is the morale of a living God, 
while morality is the ethics of a dead God. 

God's law, whether for nature or for man, is not a 
mechanical rule, for it admits of exceptions. The laws 
of nature are often overcome either by the power of 
the ethical personality or by the destiny and will to live 
of the nation. Elijah's ethical personality prevailed 
upon God to revive the dead child of the widow of Zare- 
phath. The nation's will to live caused the sea to split 
and the sun to stand still. Such miracles are inherent in 
a living God, but are impossible in a dead Deity, for 
then nature's laws are all purely mechanical. Hence, 
absolute determinism is always linked with a dead God. 

The one living God faces one humanity. All men are 
equal before Him and His law, and hence are also equal 
before each other. Since the divinely motivated Jewish 
ethics continues itself into jurisprudence and politics, 
the one living God becomes the source of religious, ethi- 
cal, political, and juridic equality, and thereby becomes 
the source of all democracy. Even the creation of one 
man as the father of all humanity apotheosizes the 
equality of man. The descendants of a common ances- 


tor cannot boast an exclusive and select lineage. All the 
democratic tendencies in the Old Testament the su- 
premacy of the majority, the puritanism of court life, 
and the restriction of the king's power to be subject to 
rather than the source of the law are traceable to the 
idea of the one living God who is the source of all equal- 

From the very beginning there is in the Old Testa- 
ment an aversion not only to a minority regime but also 
to despotic rule. Redemptive religiosity, being disin- 
terested in man, is also unconcerned with his political 
status. Hence, it is politically tolerant of the existing 
order. Buddha was not concerned with the injustice of 
the caste system, and Jesus advocated "render unto 
Caesar that which belongs to Caesar." The Old Testa- 
ment, however, is opposed to all forms of iniquity, 
whether political, economic, or social. Its uncompromis- 
ing attitude to every form of injustice has its source in 
the knowledge of one living God who will violate natural 
laws for ethical reasons, but who will not transgress ethi- 
cal laws for natural reasons. 

The conception of the Kingdom of God or the king- 
dom of man, the denial of the world or its affirmation, 
man as a creature or man as the crown of creation, man 
looking backward or man looking forward, man listen- 
ing to the voice of nature or to the commandment of 
God, man seeking salvation or seeking justice these and 
all similar antinomies and contradictions are the conse- 
quences of either a dead or a living God. 

If man is apart from nature, religion becomes objec- 
tive and intellectual; but if he is a part of nature, it is 
subjective and psychological. 

Aryan religiosity is lyrical in nature, soft, romantic, 


full of symbolism, enchanting mysticism, and beautiful 
fables, supported by a powerful myth. Monotheistic re- 
ligiosity, on the other hand, is hard, didactic, formalis- 
tic, and mythless. It projects religiosity even upon bio- 
logical nature, and visions the day when the lamb and 
wolf shall dwell peacefully together. Aryan piety 
teaches that religiosity comes from within, Semitic re- 
ligiosity from without. To the one religion has an im- 
manent, and to the other a transcendent cause. The 
God of Eastern Aryan religiosity is a dead God within a 
bad world; the God of the Old Testament is a living God 
outside of a good world. 

The greatest paradox in the nature of these two types 
of religiosity is that each represents the reverse of the 
temperament of the race which brought it into being. 
The fiery, intensely emotional Semite created legalistic 
religiosity, while the rational, sober Aryan evolved sen- 
timental, emotional, and lyrical religiosity. The stiff- 
necked, reckless, uncivilized, and undomesticated Sem- 
ite called into being nomocracies and theocracies, while 
the steady, calm, and pragmatic Aryans brought forth a 
type of religiosity which has scarcely any bearing upon 
political, economic, and social life. Emotional and lyri- 
cal religiosity continues itself in morality and actually 
precludes ethics. That which Spinoza and Buddha call 
ethics is not ethics but morality, for it kindles in feeling 
and is utilitarian in character. Ethics and morality, how- 
ever, are two different domains. Ethics, as Plato, the 
prophets of Israel, and Immanuel Kant have demon- 
strated, presumes logics and has its root in reason, not in 
emotion. Morality, however, kindles in the emotions, in 
blind nature, and has no anchor-ground in reason. A 
man may be highly moral and at the same time alto- 


gether unethical. The most hardened criminal, killer, 
robber, or burglar, to whom human life is valueless, may 
often be overwhelmed with compassion for the horse, 
the dog, or the cat. He will actually kill a human being 
in order to protect even the "honor" of his pet animal. 
The moral but unethical man is not limited to the hard- 
ened criminal, but is to be found in all strata of society. 
The old English maiden who leaves her wealth to estab- 
lish an old cat's home, the European anti-vivisection- 
ists, and the many groups devoted to the protection and 
care of animals are all overwhelmed by morality, but 
are lacking in ethics. In many instances these individ- 
uals are subhuman in the sense that they feel themselves 
to be closer to nature than to man. If man is the object 
of ethics, they are the incarnation of decadence. Bud- 
dhism abounds in this type of morality. A Buddhist 
would not drink any water which is suspected of con- 
taining living creatures. A Buddhistic legend even re- 
lates that Buddha died by giving himself as food to a 
hungry beast. Such is the spirit of Buddhistic morality. 
The Old Testament teaches that ethics is the gift of 
a living God to man. He equipped man with reason to 
understand and with freedom of will to choose. But 
morality is the consequence of a dead God, for man is a 
living creature. Since morality is nature's voice a 
matter of the senses the type of religiosity linked with 
it is also inspired by nature. But this emotional moral- 
ity and religiosity, although it may redeem the individ- 
ual, is socially destructive, for it is not correlated to or- 
ganized society. Medieval Europe was intensely pious 
and deeply religious, but at the same time was politically 
and socially iniquitous. Only through the rediscovery of 
the living God by the Reformation, and ancient classical 


individualism by the Renaissance, was selfishness re- 
placed by social consciousness. 

Max Miiller, the great Indologist, attempted to press 
all religious psychology into one formula: "Nihil est in 
fide quod non antejuerit in sensu" "There is nothing in 
the faith that was not before in the senses." The 
senses are thus declared to be the source of all religios- 
ity. Innumerable scholars and scientists have confirmed 
this view. All types of religiosity, except that of the 
prophets of Israel, is replete with eroticism. Arnold 
Ruge, historian and theologian, once stated that mysti- 
cism is theoretical voluptuousness, and voluptuousness 
is practical mysticism. Both are born in the emotions. 

Religion and sex have always been closely related, for 
religion has been inspired by nature. If man is only a 
part of nature, spiritual redemption and elation are as 
lustful as erotic longings. Just as man's soul seeks sal- 
vation, so do his erotic emotions cry out for redemption. 
The one seeks redemption through union with the re- 
ligious affinity, while the other relieves the tension 
through a physical embrace. Erotic and religious ecstasy 
originate in the same source in the deeply felt need to 
perpetuate the self, to free it from the realm of the finite, 
and to secure its continuity. The intensification of these 
motives leads to mysticism in religion and to voluptuous- 
ness in love. 

As Goethe's Pater Ecstaticus bursts forth in Faust: 

Ewiger Wonnenbrand 
Gluhendes Liebesband 
Siidender Schmerz der Brust 
Schaumende Gotteslust 
Pfeile durchdrmgen mich 
Lanzen bezwingen mich 
Keule zerschmettert mich 


Bhtzs durchwettert mich; 
Dass ja das Nichtige 
Alles verfliichtige 
Glanze der Dauerstern 
Ewiger Liebes Kern. 

Spinoza's amor Dei is, in the final analysis, only erotic 
mysticism. It is interesting to note that his disciple, 
Novalis, suggests the doctrine of cosmic sexualism, vis- 
ualizing the cosmic fabric as one erotic fabric. But, if 
man is apart from nature, his religiosity is above and 
beyond eroticism. The one living God, by His very 
oneness, precludes all sex. He is spiritus purus, without 
any admixture of sensuality, and hence He is holy. 
Man's relationship to a God who is pure spirit is neces- 
sarily spiritual and intellectual, to the exclusion of all 
sensuousness. More than the Old Testament admon- 
ishes man to love God, it commands him to recognize 
and to fear Him. In biblical terminology, piety is called 
Yirath Shomayim, "fear of God," and not Ahavath 
Shomayini) "love of God." Since Hebraic religiosity 
kindles in the intellect rather than in the senses, how 
does this intellectuality translate itself into religiosity? 

God, as pure spirit only, is no different from Brahma. 
But God as pure ethical action is a living God, Who be- 
comes a model for man. The recognition of God implies 
not merely the knowledge of His essence, but also of His 
attributes. It is thus through this recognition that holi- 
ness is born, and the religious process originates. How- 
ever, Hebraic holiness and Buddhistic sanctity are not 
identical, for the one implies activity, the other passiv- 
ity. Hebraic piety originates in man's concern with life, 
Buddhistic holiness, in the denial of life. To emulate 
God, who is spiritus purus and action, and to be in- 


spired by His attributes, is the essence of ancient Hebraic 

Pantheistic religiosity prides itself in uniting man with 
God. This assertion implies that monotheistic religios- 
ity creates an unbridgeable abyss between man and 
God, makes man a lonely and forlorn figure, and de- 
prives him of initiative and courage. This implication 
is ill founded, because while monotheistic religiosity em- 
phasizes the dualism between God and nature, it also 
stresses the spiritual correlation between God and man, 
in that his soul is a divine spark. Man's dual citizenship 
in the realms of nature and mind, far from relieving his 
ethical tension, intensifies it. Pantheistic religiosity, 
however, by identifying man with God or with nature, 
sterilizes man's ethical creativeness, because pantheism 
spells determinism, which is the graveyard of all ethics. 

Thus did the free son of the desert evolve a world-pic- 
ture, which is a projection of his freedom and individual- 
ism upon the forces of eternity. 


The Old Testament is not a textbook of metaphysics, 
but nevertheless contains many metaphysical ideas, 
which have since become organic parts of Western cul- 
ture. The most outstanding of these conceptions is the 
idea of God, which in its highest development is ex- 
pressed in the formula, "I shall be that I shall be." It is 
a synthesis of being and ego, of universalism and indi- 

Two proofs for the existence of God, the cosmological 
and the ethical, are clearly defined in the Old Testa- 
ment. The cosmological proof is dissolved in the story 
of creation. In place of formalistic arguments that this 


cosmic fabric presumes a creator or a mover, Genesis 
begins with the story of the creation of one world by one 
God. Although the Bible makes constant references to 
this proof, it is not fundamental to the conception of the 
God-idea of the ancient Hebrews. To them the ethical 
was the primary proof for the existence of God. If man 
is apart from nature, he requires a master, guide, and 
teacher, for dumb nature is incapable of directing him. 
The spiritual primacy of man necessitates a living, i.e., 
an ethical God. God, as an ethical pattern for man, is 
far more important than God as the creator of the uni- 
verse, for man transcends, in importance, the entire uni- 
verse. The Jews have never dogmatized about the story 
of creation and, therefore, never quarreled with modern 
cosmology and evolution. But to the ethical God they 
have adopted a definitely circumscribed attitude, and 
have made no concessions or compromises. God is di- 
vine primarily because of His ethical attributes, which 
affirm this life. 

This God of ethics later developed into a God of logics, 
and became the center of Jewish philosophical specula- 
tions. The God of logics was often subjected to severe 
criticism, some of His critics even going so far as to de- 
clare Him to be nonexistent. However, as a God of 
ethics, His position has always been impregnable. Thus 
Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason, rejected Him as the 
God of logics, but in his Critique of Practical Reason he 
affirmed Him as the God of ethics. The view that man 
is the central theme of creation, transcending all nature 
in importance, makes ethics the presupposition of his 
continued existence, for if his realm remains unregulat- 
ed, what will distinguish him from brute nature? But 
even more than motion requires a mover does ethics 


necessitate an inspiring force. This ethical guide cannot 
possibly be a mathematical formula, or rigid causation, 
or indefinite Brahma. He can only be transcendental, 
self-conscious, and personal. But His personality need 
not be anthropomorphic in character, for in this instance 
personality and finiteness are not synonymous. 


Ancient Hebraism, reduced to its ultimate principle, 
means the humanization of nature, not the naturaliza- 
tion of man. It was visualized in the eschatology of the 
prophets, when they taught that in the remote future 
nature will be governed, not by the blind laws of causa- 
tion, but by the ethical laws of man. The ideal of peace 
and concord would even be realized in the animal king- 
dom. Nature will purge itself by domesticating its in- 
stincts, and by emulating the example of man. This 
hope was based upon the certainty of the sovereignty 
of the spirit and its final victory over nature. There- 
fore, the ancient Hebrews made no attempt to enslave 
nature as did the Western Aryan. Their attitude to bio- 
logical nature as expressed in the Old Testament was 
only poetic, not scientific. Non-lyrical nature, however, 
was considered to be the realm of wild, untamed in- 
stincts and the personification of the a-logical and the 
a-ethical. 1 It contained nothing from which man could 

1 These cultural ideals of ancient Judaism, springing from a definite negative 
attitude toward biological nature, were forces contributing to the alienation of the 
Jew from the realities of life. The devotion to the spiritual resulted in a loss of di- 
rection in life. The ancient Jewish world-picture was not conducive to science, to 
philosophy or art, save to such abstract arts as poetry. Estranged from reality, 
the Jewish ethical law, with man as its center and object, lost its original dynamic 
force and became a static An, rabbinical decree. As a result of the overvaluation of 
the spirit, Judaism was reduced to a pale literary tehdency m world-history instead 
of developing into an active historical force. Rabbinic Judaism became a-historical 
and lost its relationship to time and space. The dogma became the very center of 


learn. This view harmonized completely with Socrates' 
foundations of ethics. 

Man as a part of nature is keenly aware of his organic 
weaknesses, which he seeks to overcome by his inventive 
powers. By his material accomplishments he extends 
himself into nature and excels it. His poison gas is more 
venomous than the serpent's fangs. His torpedo is more 
destructive than the shark's molars. His bombing plane 
is more devastating than the eagle's claws. While man 
has sought to overcome nature by creating engines of 
civilization, he has thereby only imbedded himself all 
the more in nature. The problem of man he has left 

The ancient Hebrews were primarily concerned with 
man as a spiritual being, not with him as a weakling of 
nature. Since nature to them was the realm of brute 
feeling, they were not interested in penetrating into its 
secrets. They felt that an intimate contact with nature 
would distract them spiritually, and, eventually, would 
naturalize them. Hence they resisted nature and desist- 
ed from civilization. No passage of the Old Testament 
sheds more light upon this attitude than does I Sam. 
13:19, "Now there was no smith to be found through 

all the land of Israel So it came to pass in the 

days of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear 
that went with Saul and Jonathan." Later, when Solo- 
mon built the temple, he had to beg Hiram, king of 

life. The Jewish mind, therefore, became deproblemized with its intellect con- 
demned to serve the purposes of a static jurisprudence and a static theology. In- 
sead of being orientated in life, the Jew began to take his cue from dead books, in 
which the once-living God of Israel was buried. Mohammed's description of the 
Jews as a People of the Book is but a dubious compliment, for the Tibetans, too, 
are a people of the book. Disinterestedness m biological nature transformed living 
intellectualism into a dry rationalism. It is against this dry rationalism of rabbinic 
Judaism that emotional Christianity revolted and emerged victor. 


Tyre, to send him skilled woodcutters, because there 
was none to be found in his kingdom. 

The Hebrews, although they never built pyramids, 
fortresses, roads, or bridges, created great books. If 
great structures are symbolic of civilization, great books 
are symbolic of culture. After their dispersion, the only 
reminder of civilization which remained in Palestine was 
the Wailing Wall, but the marks of a great culture were 
very numerous. Their disregard of civilization and their 
emphasis of culture were determined by their negative 
attitude to biological nature. Would the abyss separat- 
ing man and nature remain for all eternity? Such a 
prospect could not satisfy the prophetic genius. The 
problem could only be solved not through the naturali- 
zation of man but through the humanization of nature. 
He visioned the last day as marking not the destruction 
of nature but its reconstruction along ethical lines. 

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down 
with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the falling to- 
gether And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones 

shall he down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 
.... They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for 
the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters 
cover the sea. 

It becomes increasingly evident that if the ideal is the 
humanization of nature, not the naturalization of man, 
his attitude toward his fellow-man cannot be based upon 
emotions and feelings which are part of nature, but upon 
reason. Reason implies personality, and consequently 
Hebraic ethics is as much concerned with personality 
as Buddhistic ethics is unconcerned with it. 

It was not the spirit of paradox which prompted Max 
Miiller to place Hebraism in juxtaposition to Buddhism, 
for they represent the two opposite poles in the realm of 


spirit. What Judaism affirms, Buddhism denies. Juda- 
ism emphasizes a living God, man's personality, future, 
and spiritual supremacy. It affirms life and decrees its 
regulations through ethics, based upon logics. It is 
anthropocentric and optimistic. It commingles jurispru- 
dence, politics, and economics with ethics. It does not 
unconditionally surrender man to the state or to the 
church, but makes ethics the all-powerful regulator of 
these institutions. All these views, tendencies, and pos- 
tulates are rejected and denied by Buddhism. A dead 
God is not concerned with man, his future, his personal- 
ity, or his well-being, but only presumes Nirvana. 

When these two extreme and irresistible tendencies met 
in Alexandria and in Babylonia in the third century be- 
fore Christ and descended upon Palestine, the El Dora- 
do of all nations, a new combination offerees was bound 
to arise. Its consequences became destiny for the hu- 
man race through the rise of Christianity and the dis- 
persion of the Jews. The Diaspora was necessitated not 
by the rise of Christianity but by the inroads of Bud- 
dhism. The living and the dead God could not dwell 
together peacefully under the same sky. 


The differences of metaphysical and theological views, 
which for over two thousand years have kept the white 
man's camp divided, have had their bearings not only 
upon the spiritual but also upon the economic, political, 
and social life as well. Hence these differences have 
more than an academic meaning. 

It is not at all immaterial for the march of daily events 
whether man is only part of nature or apart from nature, 
for not only questions of ethics but of jurisprudence and 


politics as well are being formulated by the respective 
answer to the above-mentioned problem. That panthe- 
istic religiosity is incompatible with true ethics Her- 
mann Cohen has demonstrated with admirable clarity 
and precision. The ethics of pure will cannot have its 
kindling-point in biological nature where only the law of 
causation reigns supreme. It is, however, necessary to 
state that pantheism also shapes the destinies of juris- 
prudence and economics. How is it that jus civile rep- 
resents the primacy in Roman law while jus gentium is 
the product of a much later development, while in the 
ancient Hebraic law dina degavra (jus gentium} precedes 
dine momenoth (jus civile)? It has never been observed 
yet that in spite of the eighth commandment theft, ac- 
cording to biblical and rabbinic law, does not constitute 
a felony but merely a grave misdemeanor and is not 
punishable by prison but by a fine. It is the only crim- 
inal code in which theft is considered a misdemeanor 
only. Nor the ancient rabbis venerate the institution 
of property, although the early Christian communistic 
tendencies were totally strange to the minds of the early 
fathers of the Synagogue. According to rabbinic law, 
the paying of debts is primarily an ethical rather than a 
legal obligation. Maimonides in his code, Yad Hacha- 
sakah, summing up the various legal provisions of the Tal- 
mud relative to property makes it quite clear that the 
ancient rabbis thought of property rights as contingent 
upon the welfare of man. There is, for instance, a provi- 
sion that the creditor must not even show himself to the 
debtor if the latter is too poor to pay his debts. Nothing 
is more amazing in the history of ancient jurisprudence 
than the rabbinic law governing interests on loans. Not 
only is taking of interest totally forbidden, but even 


"dust" interests in the form of compliments to the credi- 
tor or smiling to the creditor or doing him any favor to 
appease him is strictly forbidden. In short, money per se 
has no rights, property is not an idol; it is not something 
that is sacrosanct, but the rights of man, dine degavre, 
is sacrosanct. He who insults, offends, or puts to shame 
his fellow-man publicly will not have a share in the here- 
after, and he who merely lifts his hand against his fellow- 
man is already a villain, decreed the rabbis. All proper- 
ty rights again are made subservient to the rights of man. 
The creditor has no right to take away the dowry of a 
widow-debtor though she may be wealthy, because the 
widow has special rights, and so have the orphans, and 
the poor generally have economic claims not as a matter 
of charity but as a matter of right, zdokoh. 

What have these amazing legal provisions to do with 
the metaphysical world-picture of the Old Testament ? 
If man is only a part of nature, if he is only homo 
phenomenon^ he has no special rights, for in the panthe- 
istic scheme of things the sphere of right is delimited by 
the sphere of might. It is to Spinoza's credit that he 
made this clear. If man is only a part of nature, he has 
no more rights than nature, than things, than property, 
for he is then only one of the modi, governed by the law 
to which all the modi are subjected. But if man is apart 
from nature and is also homo noumenon, he must be 
subject to a law different from that of nature, and in 
this case jus gentium precedes jus civile. While in the 
pantheistic scheme of things the right of man is only a 
part of the right of nature, because man is only a part 
of nature, in the theistic scheme of things the center of 
gravity is not property rights but the right of man. 
The rabbinic literature, to the extent that it is legal in 


character, is dedicated to the right of man. Patrological 
literature is not interested in man but in God. In the 
one case, the problem is man's welfare; in the other, it is 
man's salvation or redemption. In the one case, life is 
affirmed and an attempt made to regulate it by law; 
while in the other case life is denied and an attempt is 
made to get rid of it. The denial of life makes not only 
ethics but also jurisprudence impossible. But since life 
would not permit those who deny it to destroy it, and 
continues to develop independently of those who wail 
and lament, it develops an ethics and jurisprudence with- 
out any idealistic orientation. He who lamented most 
about the worthlessness of life, Schopenhauer, and made 
the negation of the will to live the kindling-point of his 
entire philosophical system, correctly stated that right 
is only the denial of wrong. The moral world-order is 
immorality and the good is only an interruption of the 
evil just as joy is only an interruption of sadness or for- 
tune an interruption of misfortune. But if the living 
God is primarily a God of justice, the reverse is true. 
Hence the optimistic and idealistic fervor of the Old and 
the pessimistic sighing of the New Testament. Hence 
the anthropology of the rabbis and the mystic theosophy 
of the Fathers of the church. 


military annals of ancient Greece are unique 
in that they record the compassion of the vic- 
tors, for such of the vanquished who were 
blessed with beautiful physiques. The ideal of beauty 
haunted the Greek even upon the battlefield. The 
beautiful was his sole compensation for the trials and 
tribulations of life. But the same ideal which softened 
his heart upon the battlefield often hardened it when his 
senses thirsted for beauty amid an atmosphere of peace. 
Nietzsche contends that the fair Helen was the justifica- 
tion for the shocking brutalities displayed by the Greeks 
in their numerous wars. She personified the Greek idea 
of beauty, and the adoration of her assumed the form of 
a cult. The Hellene regarded the attainment of the 
highest artistic form as the greatest accomplishment in 
life. His basic world-idea was the beautiful. 

In India, however, the Aryan was utterly disinterested 
in the beautiful and aspired only to holiness. Not the 
senses, the anchor ground of all beauty, but the spirit 
moved him. To establish a contact with the spirit, he 
had to overcome and subjugate the senses; to attain 
beatitude he had to overcome life with its myriad of 
colors and sounds. Not the worship but the denial of 
the senses was his idea. From times immemorial as- 
ceticism was predominant in India. Long before the 
rise of the Yoga philosophy in India, there already exist- 
ed an ascetic practice, which sought to attain the holy. 



Ananda and Nirvana were a state of non-sensuality and, 
therefore, the highest form of holiness. 

Between these two extreme Aryan ideals, the one 
based upon the affirmation and the other upon the de- 
nial of the senses, the one aspiring to the beautiful and 
the other to holiness, there arose a mediating force in the 
ancient Hebraic idea of the good. Although it positively 
affirmed life, it refused to worship the senses. The high- 
est goal was not the beautiful or the holy, but the good. 
Such an ideal presupposed the curbing, but not the de- 
nial, of the senses. The good is attainable as a result of 
a permanent conflict or tension between the senses, and 
the ethical consciousness which is orientated in the in- 
tellect. In contrast to the Hellene, the ancient Hebrew 
rejected nature as a source of inspiration, and, unlike 
the Hindu, he rejected it as a source of lamentation. 
Thus, in the course of his intellectual and spiritual strug- 
gles, ancient man evolved but three basic world-ideas: 
the aesthetic, the spiritual, and the ethical. 

Among the many things the ancient Greeks and an- 
cient Hebrews had in common was the conception of an 
active world. The Greek Eros and the Hebraic Messiah 
both presumed a dynamic universe. Although both 
viewed it from different angles, they discovered in it a 
constant process of revitalization and organic evolution. 
The men of the great synagogue taught the believers to 
pray to Him, "Who in His goodness renews the world 
daily." Likewise, every great representative of ancient 
Hellas was overwhelmed with the idea of an active and 
dynamic world. The Eastern Aryans, however, al- 
though related by blood to the ancient Greeks, evolved 
a picture not only of a dead God, but also of a passive 
and still world. Just as the Greek Eros and the Hebraic 


Messiah are the very embodiment of activism, so is Brah- 
ma the very incarnation of stillness. His absolute being 
is to the exclusion of all becoming. He is stiff and mo- 
tionless, for, being beyond life, he is also beyond all 

It is one of the most astounding paradoxes in the 
history of man's spiritual development that not the ac- 
tive world-idea of the Greek or the Hebrew, but the pas- 
sive world-idea of the Hindu, became predominant in 
the Western World. But the paradox is easily explained 
when one considers that the representatives of the active 
world-idea had exhausted themselves through cen- 
turies of combat and strife with each other. When the 
sources of subjectivism and individualism in Judea and 
Greece had spent themselves, the spirit of passivity and 
pessimism of the Middle East settled upon the Grecian 
polis and upon the Judean hamlets. The figure of the 
ancient Greek Eros transformed itself into the penitent 
God-seeker, and the virile and courageous prophet of 
Jerusalem was replaced by the meek and will-less scribe. 

Hinduism in its Buddhistic form finally overwhelmed 
the Western world, not because its world-idea was in- 
herently superior to that of the Greek or the Hebraic, 
but because, being passive and still from the very begin- 
ning, it had not spent itself as did the other two world- 
concepts. With death as its goal it could not die, for 
nothing is more immortal than the cemetery. 

After the death of Gautama, Buddhism stole into the 
Western world and rooted itself into the soil. It spread 
its wings over the dying cities of the Aramaic lands and 
even enveloped the great seats of Hellenistic civilization. 
And just as the Eastern Aryan, because of his weakened 
physique, surrendered to nature, so now did the Western 


Aryan, in his hour of exhaustion, surrender to the spirit 
of the East. 

Although from times immemorial there were certain 
contacts between the Eastern and the Western Aryans, 
the logic of history demanded that Palestine become the 
meeting-ground of East and West. This was not due to 
any blind caprice of fate. Palestine is geographically 
situated midway between the settlements of the East- 
ern and Western Aryans, and was thus the logical battle- 
ground for the two contradicting world-ideas to en- 
counter and to decide man's spiritual destiny for a 
thousand years. Buddhism closed in on Palestine from 
Persia and Babylonia on the east, and from Greece and 
Egypt on the west. The struggle between the Buddhist 
and the Hellenist in Palestine destroyed not merely the 
Greek but also the Jew. 

The triumph of Buddhism in Palestine led to the 
greatest religious upheaval in the world's history, re- 
sulting, first, in the destruction of Judea; second, in 
the rise of Christianity; and, third, in the destruction of 
ancient Rome. All historians and scholars, except St. 
Augustine, agree that the rise of Christianity spelled 
ruin to ancient Rome. Not the aggressive barbarians, 
but the ascetic saints, who planted Eastern holiness in 
the Western world, were the true destroyers of Rome. 
It is equally true that not the Roman Caesar, but the 
Buddha Gautama, destroyed Judea. Not the desola- 
tion of the land by the Roman legions, but the dilution 
of Judaic culture by Buddhism, destroyed the entire 
fabric of Jewish life in Palestine. The moment when the 
spirit of Buddhism infiltrated into Palestine and led to 
the formation of sects, which were opposed to the He- 
braic ideal of the supremacy of man and the value of 


earthly life, the die was cast. The Essenes, the Man- 
deans, and the various Nazareans, which were permeat- 
ed with the spirit of a more or less diluted Buddhism, 
brought there by Buddhistic monks and missionaries, 
spread the gospel of salvation, redemption, and beati- 
tude through self-denial, resignation, and the deadening 
of the senses. There the ideal of the holy as against the 
ideal of the good or the beautiful destroyed the devital- 
ized and decadent Hebraic culture and set the stage for 
the elimination of ancient Hebraism as a force in the 
world's history. 

In describing the process of the origin of Western re- 
demptive religiosity, it will become evident that the 
powerful tendencies emanating from the East, which 
had reached their culmination point in Buddhism, con- 
tinued themselves in St. John, St. Paul, and St. Augus- 
tine. Their spirit uprooted and destroyed the civiliza- 
tion of classical antiquity and forced upon occidental 
humanity a new mentality. Paulinic Christianity is a 
new mentality rather than a new religion. 


One of the strangest phenomena in Greek history was 
the destruction of Sybaris, a Hellenic city known for its 
frivolity, carnal lust, and joy of living, by the ascetic 
followers of Pythagoras. The Greeks had made a cult 
of the senses and were given to play, frivolity, and joy. 
Pythagoras, however, whom his own countrymen con- 
sidered a stranger and who was the founder of a new 
religion rather than a new philosophy, introduced a dis- 
cordant note into Hellenic life. He was the holy, silent 
island in the sea of stormy but beautiful Greek life. 
Although a philosopher and a mathematician, he was 


also a religionist who headed a fanatical religious order. 
Philosophers are tolerant and are more interested in the 
truth per se than in mission arizing it. Pythagoras, 
however, was always eager to impose his truth upon his 
environment by means of military and political force. 
The destruction of Sybaris was not an isolated phenom- 
enon, but probably represents the culmination point of a 
struggle of the Pythagorean asceticism against joyous 
paganism. Pythagoras was the very embodiment of in- 
tolerance, puritanism, asceticism, and self-denial. He is 
inconceivable as a purely Hellenic figure, for the Greek 
was religiously neutral. After his death many legends 
clustered about his name, including one which reported 
that he had spent several years in India. Even if this 
tale had no foundation in fact, both his personality and 
his doctrine testify to the influence of the East. 

During the past century almost all Indologists and 
historians agree that Pythagoras drew from ancient 
Hindu philosophy. Sir William Jones already pointed out 
the analogies between the Samkhya and the Pythago- 
rean systems. Samkhya means "number," which to 
Pythagoras was everything. Furthermore, the Pythag- 
orean doctrine of metempsychosis is analogous to the 
Hindu tenet of the transmigration of the soul. 

About fifty years ago Leopold von Schroeder, a cele- 
brated German Indologist, pointed out in his essay, 
Pythagoras unddielnder? that all the doctrines ascribed 
to Pythagoras, both speculative and scientific, were al- 
ready current in India as early as 600 B.C. Even the 
so-called Pythagorean theorem of the irrational number 
was developed before him in the Culvasutras in India. 
The very character of the Pythagorean organization, the 

1 Leipzig, 1894. 


religious fraternity, was Hindu and not Greek in origin. 
Whether he acquired his Hindu wisdom in India or in Per- 
sia, there can be no doubt that he represents an Eastern 
tendency in Western thought. The same can also be 
said of Empedocles, who, by the way, was also consid- 
ered a stranger by his countrymen. According to 
Garbe, 2 not only Empedocles and Pythagoras, but also 
the Eleatics, Xenophanes, and Parmenides, represent 
oriental wisdom in the Occident. 

The most striking resemblance I am almost tempted to say 
sameness is the all, the one in the Upamshads and the philosophy 
of the Eleatics. Xenophanes teaches that God and the Universe 
are one, eternal and unchangeable, and Parmenides holds that reali- 
ty is due alone to this universal being, neither created nor to be 
destroyed, and omnipresent. Further, that everything which exists 
in multiplicity and is subject to mutability is not real, that think- 
ing and being are identical. All these doctrines are congruent to 
the chief contents of the Upanishads and of the Vedenta system 
founded upon the latter. 

Many scholars have already observed that Heraclitus' 
theory of the eternal change corresponds to a similar 
doctrine of the Samkhya philosophy. His doctrine of 
the innumerable annihilations and reformations of the 
universe is, according to Colebrooke, 3 one of the best- 
known theories of the Samkhya system. 

There are also many elements in the philosophy of 
Plato which are of Hindu origin. In all likelihood Plato, 
who was an admirer of Pythagoras, drew his inspiration 
not from contact with India, but from the founder of the 
first ascetic order in Greece. A thorough examination 
of the century-old controversy about Hindu-Greek rela- 
tionships justifies the assumption that both branches of 
the Aryan race were in touch with each other. The 

9 The Philosophy of India (Chicago, 1897). 
s Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, I, 241. 


analogies and parallels in the philosophical thought of 
both cultures are so striking that they cannot be ex- 
plained by logical continuity alone. 

Ancient India was never hermetically sealed to the 
outer world. From times immemorial it was reached by 
traders from Western and Central Asia. A country with 
as rich a culture as India, which was constantly visited 
by traders from many countries, was bound to color the 
historical process of those countries which were in con- 
tact with the West. The cultural stream moved west- 
ward from India, and not eastward from Greece, for the 
Eastern Aryan matured intellectually before his West- 
ern cousin. Alexander's attraction to the East was stim- 
ulated, not by a sudden vision of the Orient, but by older 
Greek tradition. 

While all the details of pre-Buddhistic contact with 
the West are not yet a matter of philological knowledge, 
India's post-Buddhistic relationships with the West are 
well known. A generation after the death of Alexander, 
Indian potentates were already dispatching diplomatic 
emissaries to the West. King Osaka, the Constantine of 
Buddhism who lived in the third century B.C., followed 
this tradition so meticulously that he actually developed 
a new diplomatic technique. Within two generations 
after the death of Alexander, regular trade routes con- 
nected India with Greece, and a steady stream of ex- 
changes took place. The Occident was fascinated by the 
spiritual influx from the East, which stimulated in it a 
desire for still closer contact. Selenius of Antioch sent 
Megasthenes as his ambassador to the court of Patna, 
with special instructions to furnish him with a complete 
description of India. Ptolemy of Alexandria sent 
Dionysius to India for the same purpose. In addition, 


a continuous and steady stream of communication was 
maintained between East and West since the third cen- 
tury B.C. via the Caspian Sea, the Caucasuses, and Ar- 
menia. There was also a sea route via Ceylon. Through 
many channels, communication between the centers of 
culture of the two branches of the Aryan race were kept 

The traders, emissaries, ambassadors, and mission- 
aries from the East brought with them to the West, not 
isolated Eastern ideas, but the framework of a definite 
system of culture, namely, Buddhism. The rock in- 
scriptions of King Osaka relate that as early as the third 
century B.C. Buddhism was already highly organized, 
legalized, and missionarized. From one of his inscrip- 
tions it appears that the Buddhistic trinity Buddha, 
Darmah, and Samgha God-father, God-son or Logos, 
and the Holy Spirit had already been carried by Bud- 
dhistic priests to all parts of the Western world. In the 
second century B.C. many cultural centers in Asia Minor 
were thoroughly familiar with Buddhism. 4 

Alexandria and Rome became the goal of Hindu mis- 
sionaries and propagandists. King Osaka knew the po- 
tentates of Syria and Macedonia by their full names, 
and mentioned them in his inscriptions as followers of 
his law. In the West, Seneca compiled a work upon 
India which, however, was lost. The fate of this work 
also overtook many other contemporary occidental 
works upon India. These defections explain the spo- 
radic mention of Buddhism in the early writings of the 
Fathers of the church. Only Clemens of Alexandria, 

4 This becomes evident from a passage of Alexander Polyhistor, preserved by 
Cyril of Alexandria, in which the Buddhists are referred to as Samanos. 


who lived in the second century after Christ, mentions 
Buddha by name. 

Buddhism stormed into the Western world at a time 
when the creative genius of the ancient Greeks had al- 
ready spent itself. Its commingling with a decadent 
Greek culture resulted in a new spiritual orientation, 
which found its expression in neo-Platonism, neo- 
Pythagoreanism, and Gnosticism. A similar metamor- 
phosis took place in Palestine, when it, in its turn, was 
overwhelmed by Buddhistic influences. Essenism, Man- 
daism, Ebionitism, and Nazareanism were the Pales- 
tinian products of the encounter between Hebraism and 
Buddhism. These sects are the connecting link between 
Buddhism and Christianity. 


In no other great religious document are the doctrines 
of free will, the primacy of the intellect, and the affirma- 
tion of life expounded with such clarity and forcefulness 
as in the Old Testament. It may be said without ex- 
aggeration that these three doctrines constitute the es- 
sence of Old Testament religiosity. He who denies any 
one of them rejects the Old Testament as a religious 

During the rebellion against Roman tyranny and op- 
pression in Palestine, there sprung up the sect of Es- 
senes, who, while confessing to a belief in the Old Testa- 
ment, rejected the three basic doctrines referred to 
above. Instead they taught determinism, fatalism, the 
denial of life and the primacy of the emotions. Thus, 
while they formally accepted the Old Testament, they 
actually repudiated it in substance. To consider them 
to be a Jewish sect is to misunderstand completely the 


entire historical process. The sect was originally the 
Ashi, a Chaldean word for bathers or Baptists. Their 
very name already indicated that religiously they de- 
viated from the traditions of their race, which ignored 
baptism as a religious act. All the characteristics of 
Buddhistic life celibacy, communism, puritanism, pas- 
sivity, contempt for sensuous pleasures, the refusal to 
take an oath, and the like testify to their non-Jewish 
character. Like all Buddhistic religious groups, they 
were organized as an order, and as a closed fraternity. 
Although they numbered only four thousand, they 
erected an insurmountable barrier between themselves 
and their people. Like all Buddhistic groups, they too 
turned away from life. They refused to participate in 
political affairs, and were disinterested in the state and 
its welfare. Their final goal was the Kingdom of Heav- 
en, a spiritual state having no bearing upon reality, to be 
attained in the remote future. To attain this goal it was 
necessary to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of life. 
Gradually the Essenes withdrew from the religious and 
national affairs of their people and completely surren- 
dered their national consciousness. They appeared as a 
religious sect, having no relationship to their religious 
and national environment. Unfortunately their main 
document, the Megillath Chassidim, which summarized 
their religious and political doctrines, has been lost. 

Philo of Alexandria left two records of the Essenes at 
their highest peak of development. 5 Although Philo 
never saw their mode of life, for he never visited Pales- 

s William King, The Gnostics and Thetr Remains, p. I : "Their [the Essenes*] 
chief doctrines had been held for centuries before in many of the cities of Asia 
Minor. There, it is probable, they first came into existence as mystae, upon the 
establishment of direct intercourse with India, under the Selencidces, and Ptole- 


tine, he described them in such positive terms that he 
must have possessed first-hand information about this 
strange sect. 

They do not lay up treasures of gold or silver, nor do they acquire 
large portions of land out of a desire for revenues, but provide 
themselves only with the absolute necessities of life. No makers 
of arrows, darts, spears, swords, helmets, breastplate, or shields 
no manufacturer of arms or engines of war, nor of things belonging 
to war, or even of such things as might lead to wickedness in times 
of peace, is to be found among them. Traffic, inn-keeping, or navi- 
gation, they never so much as dream of, because they repudiate 
every inducement to covetousness. There is not a single slave to 
be found among them, for all are free and mutually serve each 
other. They leave the logical part of philosophy to the word catch- 
ers, and the natural part to the astrological babblers, excepting for 
those problems which treat of the existence of God and of the origin 
of the universe. The ethical part they thoroughly work out them- 
selves. They are instructed in piety, holiness, righteousness, econo- 
my, politics, in the knowledge of what is truly good, bad and in- 
different, so that they can choose those things which are necessary, 
and reject the unnecessary, 

The account of Josephus about the Essenes agrees in 
all its details with that of Philo. From his account, too, 
it can be inferred that they were not a Jewish sect. Both 
accounts stamp them definitely as a Buddhistic sect. 
Their conception of the immortality of the soul estab- 
lishes their philosophical dependence upon Buddhism. 
"The soul is neither mortal nor immortal." This view 
represents a mystical type of consciousness that was ut- 
terly strange to the logical Greek or to the rationalistic 
Hebrew. Only the mystic can affirm and deny in the 
same breath. Only the mystic can accept monotheism 
and trinity at the same time. 

The Essenes were allied with many other sects of simi- 
lar persuasion, such as the Ebionites, the Therapeutae, 
the Hemero-Baptists, and the Eranos. Except for the 


last group, all the others practiced asceticism, and were 
carried by religious mysticism, which was incomprehen- 
sible to the sober-minded Judeans. All these sects and 
brotherhoods were conceived in the spirit of Buddhism. 

Although we no longer possess first-hand information 
about the philosophic and religious doctrines of the 
Essenes, we are more familiar, however, with the theo- 
ries of the Mandeans, an important related sect. 

Two industrious scholars, Litzbarsky and Richard 
Reitzenstein, have recently, independently of each 
other, thrown some interesting light upon the intellec- 
tual background of the Mandeans. Litzbarsky believes 
that their original dwelling-place was the Jordan Valley; 
that they were identical with the sect of John the Bap- 
tist; and that, like the Essenes, they were also called 
Nazareans. A small Mandean group survived, and is 
still to be found in the valley of the Euphrates. 

According to Litzbarsky, Brandt, 6 and others, the 
prophet of the Mandeans is John the Baptist. Their 
principal sacred work is called Sidra Rabba, in which is 
developed a metaphysical principle, which is reminiscent 
of the Atman-Brahma theory of ancient India. Their 
cosmic principle, Mana Rabba, the All, is bounded only 
by itself and all things emanate from it. It is the golden 
egg of the Brahminic cosmogony, and corresponds to the 
Hindu Atman. In the Mandean metaphysics, there is 
already fully developed the principles of the trinity, 
consisting of Pira Ayar, Mana Rabba, and Demutah 
God-father, God-son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Richard Reitzenstein, one of the foremost authorities 
on comparative religion, states that "the doctrines of 
the Mandeans bear no resemblance to those of Juda- 

6 The Mandeans, Their Religion and Theit History (1915). 


ism." 7 Ado, the founder of the sect, was a wandering 
mendicant, and in all probability a Buddhistic monk. 
This semi-Buddhistic sect in accepting John the Baptist 
as its main prophet became one of the spirits which 
made it possible for Christianity to arise. 

Buddhism penetrated into Palestine, not only through 
Chaldea, but also through Greece. The famous Indolo- 
gist, Lassen, who denies that ancient India ever affected 
Hellenic thought, admits its influence upon neo-Plato- 
nism and Gnosticism. In his major opus, Indian Antiq- 
uity, he says, "The Hindu elements in the Gnostic sys- 
tems were derived from Buddhism and exercised a con- 
siderable influence upon the spiritual life in Alexandria." 
Lassen maintains that Gnostic cosmogony is of pure 
Buddhistic origin. There are many analogies and paral- 
lels between Gnosticism and Buddhism, chief among 
which are the identification of soul and light and the 
contrast of soul and matter. 

But even more than the influence of Gnosticism, Es- 
senism, Mandeism, and other similar sects, with their 
metaphysical and theosophical doctrines, has the Logos- 
idea been instrumental in shaping Christianity. The 
Logos of Christianity must not be confused with the 
Logos of Heraclitus and the Stoics. Only to Christian- 
ity did it signify something purely theosophical the 
second person of God or the intermediary between God 
and man. 

Whether the Logos of Heraclitus is Hindu in origin is 
a matter of debate, but there can be no doubt that the 
Hellenistic doctrine of the Logos as developed by Philo 
of Alexandria is of Eastern origin. 8 In its days, Alexan- 

? Das iramsche Erlosungmystcrium (Bonn, 1921). 
80. William, Gcschtchte des Idealismus, I, 89. 


dria seethed with Buddhistic missionaries, who not only 
spread the gospel of Buddha, but also propagated the 
philosophical teachings of their race. Philo's doctrine 
of the Logos was colored by these currents, 9 which origi- 
nated in the Rigveda, in the conception of vach or voice 
or the word. Even his God or Theos-idea has nothing in 
common with the Old Testament, since it too bears the 
brand of the East. To him God is identical with being, 
with the unchangeable, with the pure unmixed oneness, 
with the infinite and the perfect, who faces matter which 
is unreal, non-being, evil, imperfect, finite, and change- 
able. He is the efficient cause unto Himself. The world 
is inefficient and dependent, and hence cannot be de- 
duced from Him. He is supersensuous, inconceivable, 
incapable of affection or passion, and not within space 
and time. There is an absolute dissimilarity between 
God and all the creatures, including man. He is above 
and beyond all attributes and properties. Only the 
name "being" befits Him. 

Philo's Theos is nothing else than the Hinduistic 
Brahma or Atman idea in Hellenistic garb. He, too, is a 
still, motionless, static, dead God. A dead God is not 
an explanation for a living world. If God is dead and 
the world is alive, who created it? But since Philo was 
a Jew by blood and a Greek by culture, and thus still 
overwhelmed with individualism, he could not permit a 
dead God to swallow a living world, as Spinoza did later. 
Therefore, he resorted to the Logos, which served as an 
intermediary between a dead God and a living world. 

9 Weber, Indischen Studten. Almost all historians of philosophy assume that 
Philo's Logos was inspired by the Stoics. That this is not the case can be seen from 
the fact that, while the Stoics' Logos meant either destiny or pneuma, an all-pene- 
trating moral and rational force, but not a metaphysical principle, Philo's Logos is 
a cosmic, metaphysical entity, resembling the attribute of thinking of Spinoza's 
substance. See also bibliographical notes. 


It is God's representative ambassador and archangel to 
its world, whose function it is to administer it for God. 
It is also the world's representative and high priest to 
God, whose function it is to lay the prayers of the world 
before God. He is the Son of God and the first-born. 
Man, himself, is a divine being only to the extent that 
he participates in Logos. As God's Son, Logos is the 
second God. He is uncreated in the earthly sense, but is 
an emanation of God. 

Many other Buddhistic elements, such as the idea of 
God impregnating a virgin, causing her to give birth to 
His Son, are to be found in Philo. 

The idea of a dead God, the conception of a mediator 
between God and the world, and the mythical vision of 
a God remote from reality, begetting a Son from a vir- 
gin, were not only strange but even revolting to the an- 
cient Hebraic mind. It is, therefore, a misunderstand- 
ing of history, which has caused innumerable theolo- 
gians and historians to regard Philo as the connecting 
link between Hebraism and Christianity. As a matter 
of fact, he is the most direct link between Hinduism and 
Christianity. His Logos-idea and his conception of sal- 
vation and its attainment by self-denial point to ancient 

These theories foreshadowed early Christianity and 
paved the way for the coming of John the Baptist. "In 
the beginning there was a Logos " 


The village and the ghetto are not subject to change, 
and their skyline never varies. The ghetto of today 
differs little from the Palestinian ghetto of two thousand 
years ago. Those who are familiar with its life have oft- 


en observed pale, emaciated figures moving through its 
crooked lanes, as if in a trance. They glide slowly and 
noiselessly like shadows, and carry themselves like 
cloud-walkers. They are pious, saintly men. They talk 
little, but when they speak their subject is mainly Mes- 
siah, or the hereafter. Their desires are few and their 
main concern is the world to come. Like all saints, they 
have a deep contempt for earthly life, which to them is 
only a prelude to a life of eternal bliss in the hereafter. 
These dreamers of the ghetto are mainly apocalyptic 
figures, who are shaped and chiseled by a tragic fate. 
Only the Eastern landscape, with its deadening monot- 
onous planes and its desert-like stillness, interrupted by 
cries of agony and woe, can produce men to whom life 
is only a vale of tears. 

When Pontius Pilatus ruled supreme in Palestine in 
the name of Caesar, the land was no longer the Jewish 
country, although its inhabitants were mainly Jews, 
but a ghetto formed by the political, economic pressure 
from without and the Hellenizing process from within. 
Like all other ghetti, it produced its holy men, saints, 
cloud-walkers, and dreamers, who denied life because 
life had denied them everything. 

Jesus of Nazareth was such a holy man of the Pales- 
tine ghetto. He was the incarnation of piety, humility, 
meekness, and spirituality. Just as today not the holy 
but the learned man in the ghetto is its central figure, so 
then not Jesus but the Pharisees, the cast of scholars, the 
legalists, were the all-important men. But destiny and 
the logic of history willed it that not a learned but a 
holy man of the Palestine ghetto should become the 
central figure of the world's history. Destiny willed it 
that the humble carpenter's son of Galilee be elevated 


to the position of Christ and become the greatest and 
most inspiring figure in all history as if history wanted 
to affirm that not legality but morality, not intellect 
but emotion, is the primary driving force in life. 

Like all pious figures of the ghetto, Jesus of Nazareth, 
too, was neither a philosopher, a rabbi, a theologian, nor 
a social reformer. He was but little concerned with 
earthly life, and hence had no problems to solve, no 
questions to answer. His only message to humanity was 
that of apocalyptic hope. His was a dream world, 
through which He moved like a shadow, silently, noise- 
lessly, pensively. In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, his- 
tory marched with seven-league boots to make His fate 
a symbol of world-historic magnitude. Here was a 
citizen of two worlds, with sufficient strength of charac- 
ter to surrender completely His citizenship rights in the 
realm of matter and to identify Himself exclusively with 
the realm of the spirit. Here was a man whose heart 
was as pure as that of a child, who lived in the Roman 
Empire but was scarcely aware of it, who moved in the 
shadow of the rigorous Jewish legality but was hardly 
affected by it. This childlike innocence, amid the le- 
gions of Caesar, the rigor of the rabbinic legalists, and 
the noise of Hellenistic paganism, captivated and fasci- 
nated humanity. History has never seen such purity of 
heart in a perverted, decadent, corrupt world. Hence, 
the tragedies of the problemizing Socrates, the paeaniz- 
ing Bruno, and the geometrizing Spinoza are pale epi- 
sodes in comparison to the grandeur of His tragic fate. 

The figure of the emerging Jesus in a dying world is 
reminiscent of a tear ossified into a pearl. His contempt 
for the flesh, for earthly life and its pleasures, originated 
in an existence which was studded with corpses still 


breathing. His sighs were deep and heart-rending, be- 
cause they welled from a pure and innocent soul. Even 
before His coming the country was charged with reli- 
gious tension. Everyone expected the Redeemer and 
prayed for the Savior. Messianic memories of old, the 
message of salvation and redemption breaking forth 
from the East, and the growing contempt for life as the 
result of oppression and pain led to the formation of in- 
numerable religious movements and sects, each of which 
possessed its own gospel of salvation. The Essenes, the 
Mandeans, the Nazareans, the Ebionites, and innumer- 
able others offered their own messages of hope and re- 
demption. A Stimmung of tense religious expectancy 
had settled upon the villages and hamlets of Galilee. 
All eyes were turned to heaven, all hands were folded 
in pious prayer, all eyes were filled with tears. Amid 
these prayers, tears, and religious expectations there 
suddenly appeared the overwhelming figure of John the 
Baptist, who personified all the tendencies, currents, 
and thoughts of his time and environment. The Semitic 
desert in which the Hebraic law of all life originated now 
became the goal of a penitent, preaching apostle, who 
denied both the law and life. In him the Roman Lex 
and the Hebraic Chok found an uncompromising ad- 
versary. He fiercely hated everything Roman and He- 
braic, everything civilized and cultured. Just as later 
St. Paul was attracted by the city, so was this mighty 
apostle attracted by the desert, whose monotony and 
lifelessness meant to him a symbol of purity. 

John preached penitence, announcing in flaming 
words the end of the world and the coming of a Son of 
Man, who is not identical with the Jewish Messiah, who 
would destroy this sinful and sin-laden world. John pic- 


tured the last day as a day of flames, which would con- 
sume the world. 

John the Baptist was the first of the great religious 
figures of his time who broke with Jewish religious tradi- 
tion. His religiosity is not Jewish or even Essenic, but is 
Mandaic, a mixture of Buddhism, Chaldaic myth, and 
diluted Parseeism. It was the call of John the Baptist 
which aroused Jesus. Like his guide, Jesus too became 
enveloped in an apocalyptic spirit. He too visioned only 
the world to come, not the world that is. He hoped that 
the redeemer would soon come and cause the world to 
expiate for its sins. When he was completely absorbed 
by the certainty of the coming of the Redeemer, it 
flashed upon him that He, Himself, was the Redeemer. 
At first he barely dared to admit it to himself; later he 
slowly revealed it to his friends, who spread his message 
over the entire countryside: "The Redeemer is coming." 
While those who were close to Him believed in his mis- 
sion, He Himself was still tortured by doubts, and the 
possibility that He was in error robbed Him of His peace 
of mind. At times He felt that His power was waning 
and then He was on the verge of a collapse. These 
doubts and fears testify to His purity of heart and hon- 
esty of purpose, for, living in an apocalyptic world, He 
could not ward off the visions of terror and despair, of 
hope and salvation, which overwhelmed Him. 

No man could say of himself more justly than did 
Jesus, "I am not of this world." Nothing upon the sur- 
face of the earth or anything which grew out of it at- 
tracted Him. Caesar and high priest, skyline and land- 
scape, colors and sounds, labor and wealth, meant noth- 
ing to Him. He was not a saint because He never had 
to struggle with the forces of sin and to overcome them. 


Hailing from the village with its naiVe, childlike people 
and their primitive piety, Jesus was not interested in the 
problems of life. When he treaded the streets of Jeru- 
salem his eye was not delighted with the skyline nor was 
his ear elated by the voice of the city. Not like a stran- 
ger, but like a ghost, He flitted through the city streets. 
As His few remaining days of earthly life passed, His 
personality softened and all bitterness vanished from 
His soul. His childlike innocence and His pity for His 
fellow-man drew Him back to the hamlets of Galilee. 
He had but one message to humanity the Kingdom of 
God a doctrine which had but little in common with 
the hereafter of the rabbis. Not this world, not this life 
with its many turns of the wheel of fate, with its trage- 
dies and comedies, but the Kingdom of God is the goal 
of man. Not ceremonials, rituals, or prayers, but faith 
in God, is man's purpose, care, and aim. Since this 
world is not man's final goal, everything in it is valueless 
and meaningless. This new doctrine by its affirmation 
of God denies life, man, and the world. Since man can- 
not serve two masters, God and mammon, it is necessary 
that he dispose of his earthly goods to the poor in order 
that he may gather celestial rewards. To serve God it 
is necessary to free one's self from all ties of earthly life, 
to forego human relations, loves and friendships, rights 
and privileges, to suppress all natural urges, to endure 
injustice and disgrace, to offer no resistance to the 
enemy, but to love and to bless him for the sake of 
Christ. 10 
It was with this doctrine of self-denial" and negation 

Matt. 5:39. 

11 There is a legend telling that Buddha died by giving himself to a pack of hungry 
beasts to still their hunger and thus dimmish their suffering. Jesus died by giving 


of life and the world that Jesus broke with the tradi- 
tions of His people. It was not necessary for Him to 
violate or to deny the law to bring about this separation. 
It was tragic because it was necessary. 

Jesus can be understood only as the incarnation of the 
apocalyptic spirit of His time and country, which defied 
tradition, and had no regard for the past. He did not 
consciously break with His people, but was driven away 
from them by forces over which He had no control. To 
Judaism the Messiah is a political and ethical figure, 
linked with a thousand ties to the national aspirations 
of the Jewish people. To Jesus, His messiahship was 
neither political, economic, or social, for it was not of 
this world. Like all other Essenes, he was entirely un- 
concerned with earthly life and its future. His aspira- 
tions were purely religious, and it is questionable wheth- 
er he even hoped to become a religious reformer. Every 
reformer must affirm earthly life and must have worldly 
interests, but Jesus and His Kingdom were not of this 
world. Not man's welfare but the saving of man's soul 
was His main concern. 

Ancient Hebraism affirmed life, the world, and man. 
Only in a later period of its history did it learn of an- 
other world. In renouncing His citizenship of this 
world, Jesus renounced Judaism. In creating the im- 
pression that He considered Himself to be the mediator 
between man and God, He aroused the ire of His people, 
for the primary tenet of Judaism teaches that God faces 
all humanity and does not require an intermediary. 
Although Jesus was of Jewish blood, His mind was not 

himself as a redeemer of humanity. St Paul's scheme for human redemption is 
like that of Buddha, freeing man from sin and death. Buddha says desire, flesh, 
body, St. Paul says desire, flesh, sm. 


hewn from pure Jewish rock, for His main doctrines 
originated not in the valley of the Jordan but along the 
banks of the Ganges. 


Jesus is the most prominent and at the same time the 
most misunderstood figure in white man's history. From 
times immemorial, theologians and historians have 
made frantic efforts to link Him to the prophets of 
Israel, and to present Him as the peak of Jewish spirit- 
ual development. With the exception of Friedrich 
Nietzsche, not one Christian thinker ever observed the 
discord between the Old and the New Testaments, for 
there have never been two great religious documents 
having so little in common with each other, which have 
been combined under the same covers, for the one is a 
Semitic and the other is an Aryan religious document. 
The one begins with the story of creation and the other 
with the biography of a God. In the one book is de- 
scribed how man can best secure his welfare, and in the 
other how he can best save his soul. The one is a socio- 
logical and the other is a purely religious and metaphys- 
ical document. One book has its origin in the desert 
and the other in the jungle. 

Whether or not Jesus was a Jew by race is of little im- 
portance; that He was not a Jew in spirit only dogmatists 
will deny. The reputation of Jesus is not affected and His 
influence not jeopardized even if He appears as the 
Buddha of the West rather than as the last prophet of 
Israel. But unfortunately Christian theology was never 
as critical, impartial, and unbiased a branch of learning 
as is Buddhistic or Islamic theology. That Jesus is the 
last prophet of Israel or even that he is a development 


of Judaism is only a prejudice of dogmatic theology, but 
is not historical truth. 

A half-century ago, Rudolph Seydel, the great German 
historian of religion, published a book" in which he clear- 
ly demonstrated that all the tales, miracles, similes, and 
proverbs of the Christian gospels have their counter- 
parts in the Buddhistic gospels. 13 He compared the 
original texts and sources of both gospels, and without 
drawing any conclusions he demonstrated the remark- 
able analogies and parallels between the two. He com- 
pared the strikingly similar legends of the royal origin 
and of the holy conception of Buddha and Jesus. One 
need only compare Luke, verses 129-135, with the Bud- 
dhistic tale of the immaculate conception: 

Thou will be filled with the highest joy, a son will be born to you, 
whose limbs will be decorated by significant signs, a noble issue of 
royal dynasty, a highly noble king of kings. When he will leave 
lust, kingdom and residence to enter to the state of sainthood, 
because of his love for all man, he will be worth the sacrifice of 
three worlds, and it will be the Buddha. 

Buddha's mother was the holy virgin Maya Devi and 
Jesus' mother was the holy virgin Mary. Both virgins 
were holy brides, betrothed to the Holy Spirit, and both 
gave birth to godly sons. The immaculate conception 
of Maya Devi is as important a dogma in Buddhistic 
theology as is the immaculate conception of Mary in 
Christian theology. The prenatal story of Buddha is an 
exact analogy to that of Jesus. Buddha means the en- 
lightener, the redeemer; Christ means master, savior, 
redeemer. The tales about Jesus in the New Testament 
that as a child he was lost and sought by his parents, 

a Das Evangebum von Jesus m semen Verhaltnissen zu Buddha Sage und 

33 See bibliographical notes. 


the fast in the desert, the Baptism in the Jordan, the 
temptation, the first preaching, the first blessing, his 
pity for the people, his power as a healer, and many 
other episodes in the life of Jesus have their exact 
parallels in Buddha's life and career. In many respects 
the two gospels are so similar even in expression as to 
become almost indistinguishable. 14 

It has been urged that these similarities, analogies, 
and parallels are merely chance coincidences, which do 
not prove a direct Buddhistic influence upon Christian- 
ity. Yet the fact remains that Buddhistic canons were 
already known to the Western world before the coming 
of Jesus. Today hardly any Indologist of note denies an 
organic connection between the two redemptive reli- 
gions. So close is the connection between them that 
even the details of the miracles recorded by Buddhism 
and Christianity are the same. Of Buddha, too, it was 
told that he fed five hundred men with one loaf of bread, 
that he cured lepers, and caused the blind to see. 15 

Long before the death of Clemens of Alexandria, 
who mentions Buddha by name in 220 B.C., the Bud- 
dhistic doctrine and legend were known to scholars of 
the Western world. In the light of these facts, it is pre- 
posterous to assume that the poets of the New Testa- 
ment originated their own folk lore. Long before the 
coming of Jesus, Buddhistic doctrines had made heavy 

14 Edmunds, Buddhistic and Christian Gospels Compared (Philadelphia, 1907). 

15 Even a scholar like Max Muller, who at first refused to admit any inner con- 
nection between Buddhistic propaganda in the West and the rise of Christianity, 
stated in his famous lecture, "Coincidences," that these were too numerous to be 
independent of one another. In the end he went farther than all previous Indologists, 
by asserting that Roman Catholicism is a carbon copy of a certain brand of Bud- 
dhism. He believes that the Roman Catholic services, with its two choirs, its barrels 
of incense, its blessing of the people by the pastor with his right hand outstretched, 
its image worship, processions, and litanies, were borrowed from Buddhism. Also 
celibacy, the confession, and the fasts are Buddhistic institutions 


inroads in the Western world. Innumerable sects, 
preaching some form of Buddhism, made their appear- 
ance in the century preceding the birth of Jesus. 16 

Rudolph Seydel, a man of the deepest Christian piety 
and theological conservatism, states that it is not per- 
missible to admit an independent origin of the parables, 
legends, similes, and proverbs of Christianity and Bud- 
dhism. Inasmuch as Buddhism precedes Christianity 
by some five hundred years, one cannot escape the as- 
sumption that the newer religion was inspired by the 
older. The principal canon of Buddhism, called the 
Pali Canon, was fixed eighty years before Christ. No 
Christian scholar of note has asserted that the Synoptic 
Gospels influenced Buddhism, but numerous scholars 
long ago discovered Buddhistic elements in the Gospel 
of John and also recognized the Buddhistic background 
of Essenism, by which Jesus was greatly influenced. 17 
The conclusion is inescapable that Palestine, together 
with many other parts of Asia Minor, was inundated by 
Buddhistic propaganda for two centuries before Christ. 
The world in which Jesus lived was Buddhistic territory 
in the spiritual meaning of the term, and not Hebraic or 
Judaic. Hence Christianity, including the personality 
of its founder, is not an offshoot of Hebraic religiosity, 
but of Buddhistic theology. Only this phenomenon ex- 
plains the gigantic struggles within the young Christian 
church, and the various schismatic tendencies, sects, and 
controversies in the first five hundred years of its exist- 

Jesus, like Buddha, was not of and for this world, and 

16 Gratz, Geschicktc der Juden> III, Part I, 285-87. 

*f Among the great theologians of the nineteenth century, Friedrich Straus was 
the first to admit the dependence of Jesus upon the Essenes. 


hence Christianity, like Buddhism, is not concerned 
with this world. Christianity, far from being legalistic, 
as would be expected of a daughter-religion of Judaism, 
is as permeated with redemptiveness as is Buddhism. 
Jesus, not having been of this world, did not deliber- 
ately establish anything for this world. When he died 
scarcely five hundred people in the land believed in him, 
yet a half-century later a powerful Christian church 
threatening the very foundations of the Roman Empire 
and challenging the lords and masters of this world had 
come into being. This feat was accomplished by St. 
Paul, the greatest organizer in all history, who used the 
figure of Jesus to impose upon Western humanity an 
Eastern-world picture. In accomplishing this feat, he 
did to the Jewry of his day what Spinoza performed 
sixteen hundred years later to the synagogue. 


In ancient times the city of Tarsus was the metropolis 
of Southwestern Asia Minor. In the days of Jesus it was 
an Eldorado composed of many nationalities, races, and 
cultures. It was an important commercial and cultural 
center, and was an important seat of Greek learning. 
For many centuries it was a meeting-place of the East 
and the West, and the scene of Buddhistic propaganda. 
It was politically a Roman city, culturally a Greek city, 
and religiously a center of Parseeism and Buddhism. 
In addition, it harbored a small Jewish community 
whose members were internationally minded and whose 
Judaism paled with each generation. It was divided 
into many religious groups and sects and lacked a Jew- 
ish common denominator. It never became known as 
a center of Jewish learning. 


It seems that the family of St. Paul who lived in the 
city belonged to the sect of the Pharisees and were so- 
cially prominent. Saul of Tarsus attended neither the 
Greek nor the Jewish schools of the city. His Jewish 
education was highly defective, and his knowledge of the 
Bible was highly dubious. He was entirely unfamiliar 
with the Old Testament in the original, and, therefore, 
his unsupported statement that he was one of the dis- 
ciples of Rabban Gamliel is highly improbable. So 
garbled was his knowledge of the Old Testament that 
he assigns a verse from Isaiah to the Pentateuch, 18 
Having been bred in a metropolitan environment, he 
retained a love for the metropolis to the end of his days, 
and was always attracted to the city. Proud of his Ro- 
man citizenship, he was attracted to Rome and to the 

Tarsus, the native city of St. Paul, can best be com- 
pared to a modern Levantine city, which is a meeting- 
place for many nationalities, races, and cultures. Such 
an Eldorado, possessing no center of gravity, has no 
assimilative force and, therefore, everyone imitates 
everyone else. The Levantine man, therefore, possesses 
not a dual but a multi-personality. This multiplicity of 
personality enables the Levantine to disguise his own 
inner personality. 

Physically St. Paul was not attractive. "His figure 
was diminutive, his eyesight defective and his speech 
ineffective. In addition he was bowed and had a hooked 
nose like an eagle's beak." He constantly complained 
about ill health and physical pain. While the exact na- 
ture of his ailment is not known, we do know that he was 
both epileptic and neurotic from his very birth. This 

18 1 Cor. 14 ai. 


sickly, epileptic, unlearned, and highly neurotic "levan- 
tine" Jew from Tarsus became the founder of a new 
church and indelibly impressed his personality upon 
fifteen centuries of white man's history. Just as Mo- 
hammed introduced himself to Eastern humanity as the 
prophet of Allah, so did Paul present himself to Western 
humanity as the Redeemer's prophet. 

St. Paul's mother-tongue was Aramaic, the Yiddish of 
his day. He spoke no Hebrew, and his knowledge of 
Greek was a match to Spinoza's Latin. This intellec- 
tually undisciplined, physically defective, and tempera- 
mentally unbalanced Jew jumped from extreme to ex- 
treme, from the days of his youth. As a Pharisee he was 
a fanatical zealot who denounced the new faith; yet be- 
fore he was thirty years of age the alleged Rabbi Saul of 
Tarsus had already become St. Paul. 

Like Spinoza, St. Paul never married and was utterly 
indifferent to women. Just as Spinoza's celibacy en- 
abled him better to serve his mistress, philosophy, so 
did St. Paul's bachelorhood make it possible for him 
better to serve the Lord. 19 

Like Buddha and Spinoza, he freed himself from all 
family, communal, and national ties. The priest has no 
fatherland and the religionist is not concerned with the 
amor soli natalis^ for the spirit knows no frontiers or 
borders. By temperament and disposition St. Paul was 
a missionary, and like all genuine missionaries acknowl- 
edged no other loyalty except that of the church. Like 
Buddha and Spinoza, he also renounced all earthly 
pleasures. The beautiful meant nothing to him, and 
thus testifies to the fact that Greek culture was only 
grafted upon his mind. Actually he despised it. He 

J J I Cor., chap. 7. 


also rejected Greek philosophy, of whose importance for 
the newly rising church he had no conception. When he 
appeared in Corinth, he characterized himself as a lay- 
man in oratory and boasted that he would make no use 
of Greek rhetorics and dialectics. Later he visited Ath- 
ens, toured the city, and gazed upon its edifying sanc- 
tuaries and great monuments of art with an air of indif- 
ference. Like a true Eastern religionist, he turned away 
from this world, for his only goal and object was not 
even the Kingdom of God, but Jesus Christ as he con- 
ceived Him. This ascetic, epileptic, visionary Jew, who 
conquered the Western world for Christianity, displayed 
an energy and power of endurance which was out of 
proportion to his physical strength. Neither hunger 
nor thirst, neither torture nor humiliation, could turn 
him aside from his prescribed goal and weaken him in his 
activities as the prophet of Jesus Christ. His mission- 
arizing activities developed in him remarkable diplo- 
matic skill and dramatic talents. 20 

From the first moment of his conversion in Damascus 
to the last moment of his life, we meet him only in large 
cities in Jerusalem, Tarsus, Antioch, and Rome. It 
was the metropolitan temperament of St. Paul that was 
instrumental in transforming the apocalyptic religiosity 
of the Galilean countryside into a world-religion. St. 
Paul had nothing in common with the first disciples of 
Jesus, who hailed from the countryside. Psychologi- 
cally, they could not understand each other. Like all 
metropolitanites, St. Paul was a rationalist in spite of 
his mysticism, a thinker in spite of his apocalyptic feel- 
ings. Jesus was not confronted with any problems, for, 
like every simple villager, he was guided only by his 

30 Karl Peiper, Paulus, seme mtssionanschePersonhchkeitundWvrksamkei^ p. 71. 


emotions and instincts. Only the city-dweller has prob- 
lems which he solves by reasoning. If Jesus was a child 
in outlook, even when mature in age, St. Paul was al- 
ready a man when he was but a child in years. 

Buddha, St. Paul, and Spinoza, despite their religious 
mysticism, were all rationalists. Not their hearts but 
their minds were their guides. Jesus' spirit of resigna- 
tion was incomprehensible to St. Paul, who never re- 
signed himself to given situations. He wanted to change 
things, to make conquests, to alter the world, to forge 
human destiny, and to impose a new order upon human- 
ity. He was a missionary, a propagandist, an agitator, a 
man of action. Therefore, he left the static East behind 
him and moved toward the dynamic West. Within 
three generations after the days of Jesus he had brought 
Christianity to Rome. It is entirely due to the mission- 
ary activities of St. Paul that Christianity, an Eastern 
religion, made much more rapid headway in the Occi- 
dent than it did in the Orient. This success of St. Paul 
was partly due to the fact that he carried westward not 
the Eastern Jesus, but the Western Christ, the Logos 
which was known in some form to the entire Western 
world of that time. He Christianized the Western world 
by westernizing Christianity. His main doctrine is the 
doctrine of salvation, which has as its goal redemption 
from this world. Man in this life is under the rule of the 
flesh, of sin, of the law, and of death. These are powers 
which represent frightfully mysterious forces, and which 
reign whimsically and despotically. Christ redeemed 
man from all these dark forces. 

Christ is not Jesus of Nazareth, the humble carpen- 
ter's son, but is a heavenly being who pre-existed in 
God. He became man only to redeem the world, and 


His work of salvation began upon becoming man. The 
redemption of the world was accomplished through His 
death and rise from His grave, for He thus freed Him- 
self from the serfdom of this world. By the fall of Adam 
this world became filled with unredeemable sin, and the 
human race would have been doomed if not for the death 
and rise of Christ. 

This highly subjective conception of the deed of Jesus 
was interpreted by St. Paul as an objective occurrence, 
which has nothing to do with personal experiences and 
inner processes. He who accepts these doctrines obedi- 
ently is ipso facto redeemed. This doctrine became St. 
Paul's main obsession in life. It moved him to accom- 
plish immortal feats, and it gave him the strength and 
power of a conqueror. It also brought about his break 
with the synagogue. 

It may reasonably be assumed that soon after his vi- 
sion in Damascus, St. Paul had already decided to break 
with the synagogue. The immediate occasion presented 
itself when the question arose of the admission of hea- 
thens to the church. He recognized that if the acceptance 
of the Jewish law were made a condition precederit to 
joining the church, his doctrine of Christ would remain 
confined to a small circle. He therefore decided to per- 
mit the heathens to join the church unconditionally. 
To justify this act he began to abuse and malign both the 
ceremonial and the ethical laws, which he represented as 
an obstacle to the acquisition of holiness and virtue. He 
made it appear that the law, far from securing virtue and 
salvation, was actually the source of sin. Man inclines 
toward sin for the flesh is weak and the law cannot re- 
strain it. To annihilate sin and death, God handed over 
the Messiah, His son, to the forces of death, only to 
bring Him to life again. He became the second Adam 


who wiped out original sin, overcame death, and restored 
eternal life. Thus, Jesus Christ means the end of the 
law, and he who believes in Him is already righteous and 
has a share in His life which is free from sin and tempta- 
tion. The Jewish Messiah was supposed to redeem the 
nations from the yoke of oppression, but Jesus Christ 
redeemed them from sin. Thus, St. Paul conceived 
Christianity to be the opposite pole to Judaism. The 
latter is based upon law; the former, upon freedom and 
grace. The law is void, while Christ is supreme. In this 
manner St. Paul invalidated Judaism as a religion 
among the nations of the West. 

St. Paul was justified, from his point of view, in re- 
jecting Judaism entirely. His doctrine consists of a di- 
luted Buddhism. Both Buddha and St. Paul were con- 
fronted with the same problems the worthlessness of 
life, its sinfulness, its futility, and its evil; both had a 
negative attitude to it; both had the same starting-point 
original sin. Both sought to attain holiness and eter- 
nal happiness by overcoming life, by rejecting it, by 
estranging one's self from it, and by not participating in 
its joys and pleasures. Both had the same eschatology. 
Buddha's central goal was Nirvana and St. Paul's was 
Christ, which is more tangible because St. Paul was not 
an easterner but a westerner, both by education and by 
experience. The God of St. Paul is as unsubstantial and 
lifeless as was Buddha's Brahma. Like Buddha, St. 
Paul, too, tries to escape both from life and from death. 
He was not satisfied with the thought that Jesus purified 
life, but was very happy that He freed man from death. 
This paralyzing fear of death is one of the outstanding 
features of all redemptive religiosity. Death is terrifying 
and must be overcome. 

Buddha and St. Paul both used many terms to de- 


scribe man's sinful disposition. Both identified flesh 
with sin and taught that the age of fulfilment is the 
age when the flesh will be overcome. St. Paul's term of 
spirit is as ambiguous as Buddha's term of soul. Their 
doctrines are not of and for this world. Both denied and 
maligned man, and to neither was man the measure of 
all things. St. Paul expressed his contempt for man by 
exclaiming, "Neither did I receive it of man, neither was 
I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." He 
made it appear that his Christology was not an intellec- 
tual calculation but a religious inspiration. 

Buddha described Nirvana as the union of the soul 
with Brahma, and St. Paul described Christ as a being 
in whom God and man are joined. Buddha speaks of 
man's innumerable existences; St. Paul speaks of Christ 
as having pre-existed in God. To Buddha the first-born 
was "Logos"; to St. Paul it was Christ; and to Spinoza it 
was the attribute of thinking, or Logos. The spiritual 
relationship of St. Paul thus becomes easily discernible. 

Many theologians of modern times take it for granted 
that although- St. Paul drew from many sources, he did 
not borrow from Philo. But these assertions notwith- 
standing, the fact is that Paul's Christology, if it is 
traceable to any source at all, is reducible to Philo 's 
Logos. Philo identifies the Logos, first, with the rock 
that followed Israel into the wilderness; second, with 
the image of God; third, with the first man who is arche- 
typal man; fourth, with the Son of God and high priest; 
fifth, with the first-born son; sixth, with the man of 
God; seventh, with the Paraclete; and, eighth, with the 
mediator. 21 

St. Paul refers to the rock which followed Israel in 

M Gerald Fnedlander, Hellenism and Christianity (London, 1912), pp. 86-87. 


the wilderness, which he names Christ, He speaks of 
Christ as the image of God. He also speaks of Him as 
the second Adam, the antithesis between Adam, the first 
man, and the Messiah. These are purely Philonic concep- 
tions. Philo considered the first Adam, the Logos, as the 
heavenly man and the second as the one who sinned and 
died, while St. Paul reversed this order. His Messiah is 
the head of every man or the man of archetypal ideal, 
and His divine acts include the creation of the universe, 
the redemption of humanity, the last judgment, and the 
restitution and renewal of all things. He speaks of Jesus 
as of the Lord, implying the God-head. "One Lord, 
Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and we 
through Him." To him the Lord is always identical 
with the Hebrew Adonai and the Greek Kirios, and iden- 
tifies Messiah or Christ with God, who has been pre- 
existent and is the image of the invisible God, the first- 
born of all creation and the second Adam or the heaven- 
ly man. 

Although Paulinic theology is largely Philonic, it is 
not traceable to any other Jewish source. No theolo- 
gian can successfully demonstrate that Paul's theology 
is of rabbinic origin, for all his utterances about Christ 
are anti-Hebraic and anti-rabbinic in character. Not 
only his Christology but also his entire world-picture is 
strange to the Jewish mind. His Christ is not the He- 
brew Messiah, his redemption is not the Hebraic Geulah, 
and his doctrine of the two Adams has no foundation in 
Judaism. These concepts are to be traced to the Book of 
Wisdom or to Philo. If it is true, as the ancients said, 
that Philo Platonized, it can be said with much more 
justice that St. Paul Philonized. 

Just as Philo's Logos is only a Greek edition of the 


while the Gnostics concluded with an offensive war 
against the Old Testament. 

Since Christianity is not entirely identical with Paul- 
inism, we observe in its development during the first 
centuries two opposite tendencies, the one beginning 
with Marcion and leading to Manicheism, and the other 
beginning with Arius and leading to the Reformation. 
The one represents the Hinduistic and the other the 
Hebraic tendency. The starting-point of the one is 
Christ and of the other is Jesus. 


St. Paul declared that the Old Testament was ful- 
filled, concluded, and replaced by a new religious devel- 
opment. At the same time, however, he called upon the 
Old Testament as a crown witness to prove his doc- 
trine. The incongruity of this method is obvious, for the 
Old Testament could not serve two contradictory reli- 
gions at the same time, Marcion logically demanded 
that the Old Testament be entirely eliminated as a 
source of the Christian faith, for he declared that it was 
made obsolete by the New Testament. His keen eye 
could not fail to observe the inner incongruity between 
both Testaments. Christ and Jehovah could not be 
pressed between the same covers. Hence, Marcion not 
only stressed Christ to the exclusion of Jehovah, but 
even warred upon the latter. To him the God of the Old 
Testament, being the creator of the world, is also the 
creator of and identical with evil, and Jesus as Christ 
is the incarnation of redemption, the embodiment of the 
good. The creator of evil cannot possibly be the highest 
God and can only be a demiurg. However, the highest 
God, that of the New Testament, dispatched His son, 


Jesus, to this world to dissolve the law of the Old Testa- 
ment and to destroy the work of its God. In this juxta- 
position of two deities representing good and evil, Per- 
sian dualism can easily be recognized. 

The Old Testament is the Bible of the Jewish God, the 
creator of evil, while the New Testament is the Bible of 
the God of the Redeemer. Marcion was the real creator 
of the Christian scripture, which was entirely detached 
from the Hebrew spirit and background. It is a purely 
oriental creation, teeming with oriental myth, which it 
stresses in preference to dogma. Both his metaphysics 
and his ethics betray his Hinduistic and Parseeistic lean- 
ings. Jehovah, whom he identifies with evil, can be 
overcome only through the subjugation of the senses. 
This repression necessitates self-denial, asceticism, and 
celibacy. His doctrine represents the ancient struggle 
between oriental universalism and occidental individ- 

Marcion and his school gave early Christology, which 
was still deeply anchored in occidental Hellenism, a de- 
cided oriental turn. Light and darkness as recognized 
by the Parsees has eternal purposes, and Jesus occupies 
the same position in the theory of Marcion as does the 
Logos in the doctrine of Philo. He is the mediator be- 
tween light and darkness and as such He becomes the 
creative cosmic principle. 

Marcion almost succeeded in Parseeizing Christian- 
ity and in establishing a new church to replace the Paul- 
inic. A century-long struggle now began, which resulted 
in the rejection of Marcionism by the Western church, 
and in its being reduced to the position of an unimpor- 
tant sect. 

Although Hellenism implies a Graecized Orient, it 


nevertheless could not entirely free itself from Hellenic 
individualism, the rock from which it was hewn. St. 
Paul, by Hellenizing Christianity, effectively prevented 
the complete orientalization of the church. Marcion 
was rejected not for his antinomy of the Old and New 
Testaments, but for his attempt to de-Hellenize the 

Marcion's disciples, particularly Karapokrates of Alex- 
andria, Basilides, and Valentinies, who developed the 
Gnostic doctrines, attempted to continue the orientali- 
zation of the church. They set the stage for the appear- 
ance of Mani, a Babylonian of Persian origin, steeped 
in Mandean doctrines, who at the age of twenty-eight 
revealed himself to humanity as the last prophet, pre- 
ceded only by Buddha, Zarathustra, and Jesus. If Mar- 
cion was a menace to Hellenized Christology, Mani be- 
came a menace to Christianity at large. In the religion 
which he founded, he drew the logical consequences of 
Marcion, just as Marcion drew the logical consequences 
of St. Paul. The response to Mani's appeal was so enor- 
mous that for several centuries Manicheism seemed des- 
tined to replace Christianity and to become the domi- 
nant religion of the world. Mani's dualism is undiluted 
Parseeism. He taught that in the beginning there were 
two cosmic forces, not light and darkness, but the devil 
and the glorious superman. The union of two resulted 
in the birth of the visible world, which is again a com- 
bination of light and darkness. Man's life is one unin- 
terrupted aspiration to redemption by light. The end of 
the world will come when light and darkness will be 
completely separated. In Manicheism Jesus appears as 
a messenger, as the God of light, while the prophets of 
Israel, from Moses to Ezekiel, appeared as the instru- 


ments of the devil. He continued the tradition of Mar- 
cion and elevated ante-Judaism almost to a cosmic 

Within a short time this doctrine spread to Syria and 
Northern Africa. Because its occidental adherents used 
Christian terms, they were often regarded as a Christian 
sect and as such were either tolerated or persecuted by 
the bishops of the church. 23 Because Manicheism ap- 
pealed powerfully to the oriental mind, it spread so 
rapidly that it became a deadly menace to Christianity. 
Only the successful fight of St. Augustine, who himself 
began life as a Manichean, against this religion saved 
the day for Christianity and for Judaism. Mani, how- 
ever, bestowed a little testimony of his esteem to the 
Christian world in the form of diabolism, which over- 
whelmed the medieval church. 

Despite the influence of Marcion and Mani upon the 
march of events, monotheistic memories still lingered in 

Although there is theologically little in common be- 
tween Mani and St. Paul, metaphysically they have the 
same starting-point. St. Paul speaks of flesh and spirit, 
while Mani speaks of devil and superman. In the final 
analysis the nomenclature of the antinomies is of little 
significance. In substance both men are permeated with 
the same metaphysical dualism. Not Marcion, but 
Mani, drew the final logical conclusion from the doc- 
trines of St. Paul. 

The figures of Arius and Pelagius indicate that mem- 
ories of the old living God were still strong even when 
the idea of a dead God was triumphant throughout the 

*3 The Priscilhans in Spain and France and the Kathanans in Southern France 
were the target of bitter persecution by the church during the third century. 


civilized world. Both were pious men but invited op- 
position from many quarters, because they would not 
yield to those who taught mysteries instead of dogmas. 
In the career of Pelagius one can observe the struggle 
between a rational mind and chaos and irrationality. 
He taught a more rational God-idea. His God does not 
confer His blessing upon man arbitrarily but only as a 
reward for good deeds. Pelagius completely rejected 
the theory of predestination, which is only a theological 
equivalent for determinism, because his was a living and 
rational God. Despite the predilection of the time for 
religious mysteries, Pelagius' teachings found many ad- 
herents in all parts of the then civilized world. When 
St. Augustine discovered that the doctrines of Pelagius 
were popular even in Northern Africa, he organized an 
opposition against him and even interested the influen- 
tial Hieronymous in his cause. 

St. Augustine, the powerful bishop of Hippo, consid- 
ered himself to be the founder of a new church. He rec- 
ognized that to secure his own position and to make his 
own theology safe for the church, he must annihilate 
both Pelagius and his teachings. The latter, however, 
openly flouted the intrigues against him and exclaimed, 
"And who is Augustine anyhow!" Augustine submitted 
the Pelagius controversy to many synods but none 
championed his cause. He even appealed to the bishop 
of Rome, who would not render a decision. Some time 
thereafter there was installed a new bishop of Rome, 
allegedly of Jewish origin, who decided in favor of Pela- 
gius. Finally, St. Augustine converted the Emperor to 
his cause, who at the Council of Carthage in 418 had 
Pelagius declared a heretic and expelled from Rome. 
Thus, the Council confirmed the doctrine of St. Augus- 


tine that Adam became mortal through his original sin. 
It swallowed St. Augustine's doctrine of predestination, 
which later became a bone of contention in the Christian 
church. For reasons of expediency the church could not 
accept a doctrine which reduces God to an irrational, 
cruel, and whimsical being. However, St. Augustine, 
in formulating this doctrine, only transmuted philosoph- 
ical determinism into theological predestination. 


In the ancient world the struggle for a dead God 
reaches its highest peak in the teachings of St. Augus- 
tine. He represents the transition between antiquity 
and the Middle Ages. All the spiritual leitmotifs of the 
time settled in the mind of this remarkable man. He is 
the originator of the occidental Christian dogma, the 
founder of scholastic theology, the oracle of the Latin 
church, the predecessor of Descartes, the most powerful 
apostle of Christianity since St. Paul, and, even to a 
measure, a forerunner of the Reformation. In addition, 
he was a poet, rhetorician, artist, saint, statesman, and 

Born in 354 in Northern Africa, of a heathen father 
and a Christian mother, he already displayed at an 
early age an inclination toward sensuousness, criminal 
passions, and voluptuousness. In his Confessions he tes- 
tifies that at an early age he was overcome by a lust to 
steal, not because he suffered want and hunger, but be- 
cause he was attracted to evil. 34 Before he outgrew his 
childhood, he had already become the father of an ille- 
gitimate child. As a youth he was an enthusiastic pa- 
gan, as a young man he became a passionate adherent of 

34 1, 30; II, 9- 


Mani, and as a mature man he was reconverted to Chris- 
tianity. As a Christian he made a great career. As a 
Manichean he only became an "auditor," the lowest re- 
ligious rank, but as a Christian he became in succession 
a presbyter and bishop. 

Despite his checkered and spotted career, he became 
the greatest saint of the church, because he was a man 
of great religious passions, and the prototype of Roman 
Catholic piety which expressed itself in loyalty to the 
church rather than to religious principles. His blind, 
unswerving loyalty caused him to persecute all whom he 
suspected of disloyalty to the church. As a Manichean 
he persecuted all anti-Manicheans, but his religious zeal 
as a Christian assumed pathological proportions. His 
philosophical principles he changed even more often 
than he changed his beliefs, and explains why such an 
irreconcilable variety of principles are traceable to him. 
Whipped and tossed by religious and intellectual pas- 
sions, tortured by a variety 1 of contradictory motives, 
which stormed in upon his mind, he shot from one ex- 
treme to another. An intellectual of the purest water, 
he confesses that if not for the authority of the Catholic 
church, he would never accept the gospels. 25 An ex- 
treme determinist, he was nevertheless the spiritual 
father of the Inquisition. Meditating upon the tran- 
scendentality of time, he at the same time taught the 
physical and literal reality of hell. A believer in one 
God, he maintained to Apuelius the possibility of many 
divine beings. He relates that he came to Christianity 
through love, but then advocated that men should be 
dragged into the church by force. He complained of 
the many dubious converts in the church, but yet pro- 

85 "Evangelic non crederem,msi me catholicae ecclesiae commoveret auctoritas." 


posed that the guiding principle of the church be not the 
Christianity of Christ, but that the bishops should pre- 
vail. These contradictions caused Harnack in his His- 
tory of Dogma to conclude that "St. Augustine made tjie 
doctrine of the church unsafe, both in importance and 
in volume." 26 Augustine was not philosophically crea- 
tive or theologically inventive. His philosophical doc- 
trine is eclectic and a brew of Aristotelianism, Stoicism, 
and neo-Platonism. In its final form, his God-idea is 
reminiscent of Plotinus, Philo, and many of the Gnos- 
tics. It is the timeless, attributeless, intangible oneness, 
removed from all reality, &nd is a dead Deity. It is as 
bereft of will or intellect as Buddha's Brahma, Philo's 
Theos, and Spinoza's Deus. 

This Deity is only a lifeless cosmic principle of which 
we can say that it exists only in order to exclude the 
idea of its nonexistence. As bare existence, it cannot 
possess even ethical attributes, for any attribute, prop- 
erty, or quality would place a limitation upon it and im- 
pair its absoluteness and oneness. For the same reason, 
intellect cannot be ascribed to him, for intellect differen- 
tiates and distinguishes, and becomes manifold to the 
exclusion of oneness. Thus, just as this God is beyond 
will and intellect, so is it also beyond good and evil. As 
an absolutely attributeless God, He is stone dead. 

It was this neo-Platonic God-doctrine, the Western 
echo of Brahma, which crowded Manicheism out of St. 
Augustine's mind and brought him close to the Christ of 
St. Paul. 

St. Augustine began his theological career as a pagan 
pluralist, continued it as a Manichean dualist, and con- 
cluded it as a neo-Platonic monist. He never became 

36 To the same effect sec Eduard von Hartmann, History of Metaphysics, Vol. I. 


a monotheist, for that doctrine affirms God's life, while 
his monism affirm's God's death. 


St. Augustine, like all mystics, identified God with 
being per se. God is unnamable because He has no at- 
tributes, and He is unknowable because we can know 
nothing about Him. Our knowledge of God is purely 
negative. We only know that He is not identical with 
any of the phenomena of nature or mind. Since God is 
everywhere, He is also in man's mind and hence it has 
some perception of Him. It can have a premonition of 
Him, although it cannot visualize Him. God, being the 
timeless absolute, can have no attributes and hence 
cannot be identical with substance, for in Him sub- 
stance and attributes are identical. Substance is a par- 
ticular being while God is a general being. The only 
thing in contradistinction to God is non-being. Of this 
highest being called God we have an intuitive knowl- 
edge that cannot be expressed in words. Even our 
noblest words are soiled by the touch of earthliness, and 
hence are not worthy to describe Deity. He cannot even 
be called the unspeakable, for in doing so we already 
speak of Him. 27 But while we cannot speak of God, He 
is known beyond all indubitability. 

Thus, St. Augustine, following in the footsteps of 
Plotinus, used only negative formulas to indicate God's 
ineffability. Although he speaks of the triune God, and 
as such makes Him appear tangible and substance, He 
is yet inexpressible, indefinable, and unknowable. He is 
identical with the one of Plotinus. 28 

w De doctnna Christiana^ I, \n, 6. 

28 St. dugustme et ce nio-Platomsm. Pans: B. Grandgeorge, 1896. 


Like the one of Plotinus, St. Augustine's God also 
transcends time, for time is the measure of corporeal 
motion and where there is no corporeal motion there is 
no time. In God, however, there is no motion and con- 
sequently there can be no experience of time. Hence, 
God can know only the present. He is pure being, and 
for Him whatsoever is only is. 29 

How this dead God could create a living world, or how 
a dynamic world can be deduced from a static Deity, St. 
Augustine answered as ineffectually as did Spinoza. 
Although Spinoza evaded the problem of creation, St. 
Augustine, whose mind was crowded with conflicting 
biblical, Platonic, and Stoic thought, states clearly that 
the world has not always existed; that it was created out 
of nothing in a given instant; and that, with its creation, 
motion and time began. He fails, however, to state 
what purpose the world was intended to serve in the 
economy of a dead God. The same St. Augustine who 
denies God's intellectuality also asserts that God created 
the world by an act of His own free will. 30 The same St. 
Augustine, who cannot explain God's relationship to 
this world, or its reality, nevertheless paints a detailed 
picture of creation. The same St. Augustine, to whom 
God is bare being, suddenly individualizes it and evolves 
the doctrine of the Trinity. St. Augustine attempted to 
synthesize the impossible biblical individualism and neo- 
Platonic universalism. 

St. Augustine, in assuming creation is orientated in 
biblical traditions, and in developing a doctrine of Trin- 
ity, is guided by Plotinus, in whose doctrine of the three 
hypostases of the divine a Trinity theory is discernible. 

*> DC diversis quaestiombuS) LXXXIII. 


What is vague and barely intimated in the hypostatic 
doctrine becomes sharply drawn in St. Augustine's dog- 
ma or the Trinity. 

All the phases of St. Augustine's thought show the 
same tendency to improve upon old theories and to 
color them with new passions. Thus, like Buddha, he 
calls wisdom, reason, or Logos God's son, who is co-eter- 
nal with God the Father, and begotten of the same sub- 
stance. Although wisdom is the son's special attribute, 
it may also be assigned to the Father from whom he in- 
herited it. Logos or wisdom is God's voice, for He spoke 
and through His word the world was created. This 
Word or Logos is the idea of the world as well as its plan 
and purpose, and the visible world is only a copy of the 
world contained in the Word or Logos. This idea is 
purely Platonic in character. 

While creation took place through the Logos, the tri- 
une God manifested itself in the process of creation. 
God the Father is the origin of the world; God the Son is 
its enlightenment; and God the Holy Spirit is its good- 
ness. All three members of the Trinity are of the same 
substance, the Son having been begotten of the Father 
and the Spirit having emanated from both the Father 
and the Son. This metaphysical mystical conglomerate, 
replete with inconsistencies and contradictions, was de- 
fended by Eduard von Hartmann in his History of Meta- 
physics, I, 199, on the ground that it is of little impor- 
tance in itself, because the center of gravity in St. 
Augustine's world-picture is not theory but practice. 
Not the Trinitarian God-doctrine, but the doctrine of 
grace not the theory of knowledge, but the theory of 
love is important in St. Augustine's metaphysics. 

But the metaphysical aberrations and the philosophi- 


cal contradictions in his philosophy cannot be explained 
by or charged to St. Augustine the churchman and or- 
ganizer, for he occupied a position not only in the history 
of the church, but also in the history of philosophi- 
cal thought. Although many modern philosophical 
thoughts are traceable to him, his own philosophy is 
corroded with dogmatism, mysticism, mysteries, and 
superstitions. In addition, it is thoroughly eclectic. 

It is remarkable that St. Paul means much more to 
him than Jesus. Although his Christological alpha and 
omega also consist of the birth of Adam and the rebirth 
of Christ, it almost seems as if Christ's entrance into his 
world is more or less accidental. Not his rebirth, but 
Adam's sin, is of prime importance. If Christ is not of 
elemental significance, the historical Jesus is of still less 
importance. St. Augustine was attracted to St. Paul, 
not primarily because of his Christology, but because 
the main features of the world-picture of both men co- 

St. Paul's dualism of flesh and spirit is translated by 
St. Augustine into the city of the devil and the city of 
God. Like St. Paul, Augustine, too, is overwhelmed by 
the problem of sin and grace, and in his African zeal 
vies with St. Paul in transforming his cruel determinism 
into barbaric predestination. Man's fate is sealed be- 
fore his birth. Mot men are predestined to eternal 
damnation as a matter of justice, while a few are chosen 
for eternal happiness as a matter of grace. None can 
succeed in having this cruel verdict set aside. Over and 
above beasts, man, and gods, there is a blind force which 
rules arbitrarily over this universe, and capriciously pre- 
determines the destiny of every creature. The most 
superstitious form of oriental fatalism is thus dignified 


and elevated to the position of a cosmic principle. It 
is needless to say that this doctrine makes all ethics im- 
possible, because it renders futile all human efforts to 
improve upon the world and upon man. 

Although St. Augustine was the founder of the 
Western church, his was an Eastern trend of thought. 
He hated the world with its dynamic life and cursed and 
condemned it. In his hostility to life, he came to deny it 
and thereby arrived at the very doctrine of self-denial 
and asceticism to which Buddha and Spinoza also sub- 
scribed. Although inconsistent in all other respects, he 
was consistent in his Buddhistic motives of thought. 
This world is a valley of tears and sin-laden; this life is 
not worth while living and futile. It is illusion, maya^ 
and not reality. It is full of false dreams and ghastly 
errors and must be overcome. It can be conquered only 
by self-denial, and the price of conquest is salvation 
God, dead being, Nirvana. 


It will be noticed that from the appearance of St. 
Paul until the end of the fifth century, the God-doctrine 
in the West was not only mystical in form, but was ac- 
tually transformed into a mystery. The simple, clearly 
defined God-doctrine of the Old Testament, which grows 
more involved in the New Testament, becomes more be- 
clouded with each succeeding generation, until finally it 
develops into mythology at the expense of theology. 
This process is primarily due to Philo and to the later 
neo-Platonists. It is true that both Philo and Plotinus 
speak definitely of one God, or of the One, to the exclu- 
sion of a second, but nevertheless this oneness of God is 


accompanied by some form of Trinity. It is the triune 
God and not the one God who is in contact with the 
world. The One of the neo-Platonists is timeless, abso- 
lute, attributeless, an abstract cosmic principle, imper- 
sonal and hence a dead God. Only with the aid of the 
Logos does this One establish a relationship to the world. 
However, the Logos mysticism or the Logos mystery 
marks the end of a personal and living God in the West, 
for this Logos is of Eastern origin. It signalizes the 
triumph of Eastern mysticism over Western rationalism. 

The mystic knows no personal God because personal- 
ity has limitations, barriers, and boundaries, and con- 
tradicts the very spirit of cosmism and universalism. 
Personality means I and thou, and the mystic refuses to 
draw any line of demarcation between himself and God. 
He yearns to be part of God and at one with Him. But 
such a conception implies pantheism and not monothe- 
ism. Although the mysticism of the early Christian 
Fathers culminates in a trinitarian God-doctrine, it is 
yet permeated with Eastern pantheism, which is always 
attended by asceticism. 

The mystic feels that only by overcoming the senses 
can he attain unison with God. Hence, he declares war 
upon life or what he calls flesh, which he places in con- 
tradistinction to the spirit. Although Western panthe- 
ism need not be ascetic, Eastern pantheism is necessarily 
so. Whether the mystic practices asceticism to lose 
himself in ecstasy, or whether it is religiously motivated, 
is of little importance. By self-torture and by inflicting 
hardships upon himself the mystic imagines that he 
expiates his imaginary sins. This expiation produces the 
eternal light in which he sees God. 


It is this state of mind which dominated the first five 
centuries of church history. It was not based merely 
upon a belief or dogma alone, but was grounded in 
mysticism which was based upon the will to God rather 
than the will to man. This outlook necessitated the de- 
nial of free will and reduced man to a mere plaything of 

To St. Augustine, for instance, free will was un-Chris- 
tian, for if everyone could choose the good of what need 
is a Redeemer? The conduct of man, he explains, is the 
necessary fruit of either a good or a bad tree. He who is 
the master of his own will is a slave of God and the very 
embodiment of evil; but he who is predestined by God 
to eternal grace is both a free and a good man, for only 
divine grace makes man free. Man is unable to do good. 
"The descendants of all man," says St. Augustine, "are 
begotten in lust and thus at the same time poisoned, are 
incapable of good." But why God should condemn the 
one and bless the other, he does not explain. This con- 
ception of man in its relationship to the forces of eter- 
nity is both Buddhistic and Spinozistic. From Spinoza 
we learned that man is the slave of God y and from Buddha 
that man is the fruit of a tree. 

St. Augustine's God is as petrified as that of Buddha 
or St. Paul, and his doctrine of predestination is only an 
exaggerated form of Buddhistic determinism applied to 
religious life. In the light of predestination, life is as 
valueless as it is in the life of Buddhistic determinism; 
and if life is futile and valueless, man too is a worthless 
creature, for he was convicted even before conception 
and can never expiate his sin. Of what value is a Re- 
deemer to a man who is chained to the laws of causa- 


tion ? How can He bring salvation ? The very assump- 
tion of man's predestination to eternal damnation or to 
grace makes all efforts to attain salvation superfluous. 
Did Spinoza or Buddha say less? But still this very 
St. Augustine who established the principle that it is 
impossible to doubt one's own living existence became 
the forerunner of Torquemada and also the predecessor 
of Descartes and Calvin. 



IF THERE is any basic idea in the world-concept 
of the Fathers of the church in the first five cen- 
turies of its existence, it is the fact that God alone 
is reality and hence that He actually swallows the world. 
In comparison to Him, nature and man are almost noth- 
ing, only dust and ashes. This God-idea implies a deg- 
radation of man and of the world. Man appears like a 
crawling worm on an erring planet, without aim and 
purpose, and his only object in life is to surrender him- 
self to God by losing his own personality, by giving up 
his own will, and by renouncing his own reason. Not 
only St. Augustine but most of the Christian medieval 
philosophers expressed this idea in some form. Man has 
but one goal his return to God. This God, swallowing 
man and nature, is not a personal deity but a God whose 
name is pan, whose appetite, like that of the Leviathan, 
is insatiable. This God-idea, a dead God consuming a 
living world, necessitating an ascetic order of life, was 
the basic thought in Christian medieval mysticism. 
Since man's goal is his unison with and return to God, 
he may as well renounce earthliness and concentrate 
upon Godliness. 

It is worthy of note that in the days of St. Augustine, 
when Western humanity was overwhelmed with asceti- 
cism and with the denial of life, at a time when the 
Fathers of the church vied with one another in overlook- 
ing man, there developed in the Aramaic lands, and es~ 


pecially in Babylonia, a new literature known as the 
Talmud, which represents an opposite tendency, a the- 
ory of civilization which presupposes the affirmation of 
life and of man. While the Fathers of the church taught 
man to escape from and to overcome life, the talmudic 
schools in Nehardiah and Pumpaditha created a new 
jurisprudence which could not be enforced since the 
Jewish state had long since been destroyed. This new 
talmudic jurisprudence, shaped in part by Roman law, 
may seem to have been a futile effort, for of what avail 
is the law without a state to enforce it? Nevertheless, 
the attempt to create a new system of Jewish jurispru- 
dence at that period was only a restatement of the He- 
braic theory of life that life is to be lived and not to be 
wasted, that man is not to wander aimlessly through 
life, but is to make this a better world in which to live. 
The rabbis of the Talmud taught that those who do not 
busy themselves with the affairs of this world may not 
be sworn as witnesses, because, being disinterested in 
life, they may perjure themselves. 1 Asceticism as an 
ideal of life was not held in high esteem. God created the 
world that it be populated, civilized, and made com- 
fortable for man's use. The prime consideration is a 
busy, useful life and not the flight from life. This atti- 
tude presumes a continuation of human life. At a time 
when the Fathers of the church were proposing celibacy 
as an ideal, the talmudic rabbis were decrying it as being 
contrary to God's plans. This world must not be de- 
populated, they said, and the human race must increase 
in physical strength. 

To the extent that patrology is overwhelmed with the 
God-idea, with speculations about the God-head, the 

1 Tractate Sanhedrin, chap. iii. 


triune God, and the relationship of the first to the sec- 
ond person in God, so is the Talmud almost an atheistic 
work in the sense that God is scarcely visible in it. Not 
God, but man, is its central figure. One may page whole 
tractates of the Talmud without finding a reference to 
God, but the church Fathers, from Justin the martyr to 
St. Augustine, have but one theme God to the exclu- 
sion of man. Not the order of life or of the world, but the 
search for God, is man's sole task. These Fathers of the 
church, the more God-intoxicated they became, the 
more they estranged themselves from a living, personal 
God and embraced a pantheistic deity. St. Augustine, 
the most God-intoxicated of all the Fathers of the 
church, was nearest to pantheism. 3 Not only in his pa- 
tristic but also in his scholastic philosophy can the same 
tendency be seen. In this theological world-picture is 
expressed a contempt for man to which there are only 
two analogies Buddhism in the East and Spinozism in 
the West. 

Although the influence of the East upon the West had 
ceased by the third century, it had succeeded in putting 
a set of ideas into circulation which were to overwhelm 
the Western mind for more than a thousand years- The 
Middle Ages are distinguished by their contempt for 
man, his rights and liberties. Both man as an idea and 
man as an individual are meaningless. Man is a creature 
who deserves no consideration, and must obey the com- 
mands of those in power. The opposite tendency is visi- 
ble in medieval rabbinic literature. In it is to be found 
a complete restatement of the rights of man and of his 
duty to maintain his dignity at all costs. Just as the 
Old Testament is a book for and of this world, a book for 

a Erdmann, History of Philosophy. 


and of man, so is rabbinic literature equally concerned 
with man, his rights, liberties, and duties. But patristic 
literature has only contempt for man, because God alone 
is the all-overwhelming and all-absorbing idea. Union 
with God or with Christ, a reverberation of the old 
Buddhistic yearning for Nirvana as a union of the soul 
with Brahma, is man's final goal. Life becomes super- 
fluous, a burden, and a liability, which must be over- 
come. This is the central theme of medieval church 

It is symbolic of the tenacity of the ancient Hebraic 
spirit that long after the Jewish state was destroyed and 
its people exiled and dispersed, a law was created which, 
although it could not possibly be used for practical pur- 
poses, was yet an impressive demonstration of a su- 
preme faith in life. Just as patristic philosophy de- 
prives man of his dignity, his rights, and his free will, be- 
cause everything is predestined, so does the Talmud 
affirm not only man's rights but also his autonomy of 
will. Determinism is applicable to the realm of nature 
and not to the realm of man. Otherwise man has no 
moral responsibility, no ethics, and no ambition to con- 
tinue the struggle for a better life in a better world. 


As against the cold rationalism and legalism of Ne- 
hardiah and Pumpaditha, there stands out in bold re- 
lief the irrationalism and mysticism of the Fathers of the 
church and of the scholastics. In its mystical fervor the 
Western church excelled the Eastern. The representa- 
tives of the Greek church recognized in Christ the trini- 
tarian figure whose place in the God-head was the sub- 
ject of debate and of theological speculations. But the 


Roman church, beginning with St. Augustine, intro- 
duced the new thought of living in Christ as a personal 
matter. "I believe," St. Augustine says, "that God be- 
came man to be to us an example of humility, to show us 
God's love, and to help us to realize and to hold in our 
hearts that the self-abasement in which it pleased God 
to be born of a woman, to be scorned, rejected and put 
to death by man, is the best remedy for an inflated 
pride. He was crucified and now it depends upon thee 
to take his poverty upon thyself: far from thee He lived, 
but in poverty He comes nigh unto thee." Thus, St. 
Augustine repeats St. Paul's mystical exultation: "Let 
the same mind be in you which was also in Christ 
Jesus." To the Fathers of the Western church, Chris- 
tianity was no longer a well-defined religion, but became 
a mystical state of mind, expressing itself in the love for 
humiliation, scorn, suffering, and contempt for world- 

This negative mysticism was made positive by Ber- 
nard de Clairvaux, one of the greatest figures of the me- 
dieval church. His doctrine, that it is the duty of the 
Christian believer to have a part in Christ by having a 
part in His sufferings, became the main motive of West- 
ern piety for many centuries. He who follows the Re- 
deemer in poverty, who exhausts himself in deeds, peni- 
tence, and asceticism, and outdoes himself in self-denial, 
is assured communion with the Redeemer. Such mo- 
ments of exultation offer man worldly pleasure. This 
desire for a union with Christ translated into human 
terms means to empty one's self of all human desires, to 
overcome one's senses, and to attain beatitude. This 
beatitude is the Western term for the eastern Nirvana. 

This progressive subjectivization of Christian religios- 


ity was even farther developed by the scholastics, who 
aspired not merely to a union with Christ, but to the 
absorption of the soul by the triune God. Only by be- 
coming part of God, the Father Himself, can existence 
be made a true reality. This union, teaches Duns Sco- 
tus, requires the complete surrender of the will. Only 
in this manner can the soul be merged with God. This 
de-individualization of man, forming as it does the high- 
water mark of medieval Christian universalism, became 
the driving force of Christian piety of the Middle Ages. 
Surrender, relinquish, became the cry word of medieval 
mysticism; everything is meaningless, worthless, and 
unreal, and only Christ, or, as the ancient Hindu said, 
Brahma, is real. This a-cosmistic mysticism, too, is the 
daughter of fatalism, and the confession of medieval 
man that he was incapable of coping with the forces of 
eternity. Resigned to his fate, he gave up all attempts 
to improve this life. The more he neglected it, the faster 
it ravished and consumed him and intensified his spirit 
of resignation. Stupefied by the constant disaster called 
"life," he turned aside to heaven and surrendered. 


Subjective religiosity, based upon inner experience, 
found its highest expression in the joyous mysticism of 
the thirteenth century, of which Master Eckhardt is the 
outstanding figure. While many of the scholastics and 
representatives of the patristic philosophy still vacil- 
lated between pantheism and a vague theism, Father 
Eckhardt is a full-fledged pantheist, whose doctrine 
resembles the metaphysics of Sankara. To Father 
Eckhardt, God is the pure essence of being, and to San- 
kara, God is identical with being. To both, God is in- 


discriminate, the negation of finiteness or being. He is 
and He is not at the same time. He is denaturalized 
nature, revealing Himself as naturalized nature. This 
theological, metaphysical terminology has its analogy in 
Spinoza's natura naturans and natura naturata. 

Like all pantheists, including Spinoza, pious Father 
Eckhardt asserts that not only is God beyond good and 
evil, but He is not good, and man need not be grateful 
to Him for His love, because it is caused by eternal com- 
pulsion. God loves nothing outside of Himself, and all 
His love is absorbed in Himself. Nevertheless, all crea- 
tures aim at becoming like God. God is everywhere, in 
everything, and is the all-embracing reality. "It is the 
father's nature to beget the son and it is the son's nature 
to be born and that I should be born in Him: Likewise, 
it is the spirit's nature that I should be consumed in him 
and be transformed into pure love. God has become 
man that I might become God. God has died that I 
might die unto the world and all that is therein." To 
avoid all misunderstandings, the pious Father Eck- 
hardt teaches that between God and creature there 
comes about a relationship with mutual surrender 
which is equally essential to both, and that God can do 
as little without man as man can without Him. When 
man's will becomes God's will, all is well; but when 
God's will becomes man's will, that is perfect. In the 
first instance, man only subjugates himself, and in the 
second, God is born in Him, and the aim of creation is 
attained. Man, who surrenders his will, becomes by 
grace what God is by nature, and He is as near to us as 
the water which we drink. This doctrine contradicts the 
assertions of the Fathers of the church that there is a 
sharp border line between the kingdom of grace and the 


kingdom of nature. Father Eckhardt obliterates this 
frontier, for to him God is everywhere. But he was 
courageous enough to draw the logical conclusions from 
his bold doctrine and asserted, though in guarded terms, 
that since God is in all things, grace too is everywhere, 
and hence there is no need of priestly service in the en- 
tire sacramental fabric. 

The pantheistic Eckhardt, too, paved the way for 
Spinoza's doctrine of subjective religiosity, which in the 
Western world had its origin in St. Augustine's doctrine 
of inner religious experience. Just as the Augustinian 
influence upon the development of medieval mysticism 
culminated on the one hand in the personality of Master 
Eckhardt, it also led on the theological side to the devel- 
opment of the ontological proof of God by Anselm of 


The man who most influenced Spinoza's doctrine of 
God was none other than Anselm of Canterbury, whose 
ontological proof of God is to be found in undefined 
form in the writings of St. Augustine. Anselm, an Ital- 
ian by birth and by training, was archbishop of Canter- 
bury from 1079 until his death in 1 109, and administered 
his office according to the principles of Pope Gregory 
VII. Anselm represents the very incarnation of medie- 
valism in philosophy. He urged the faithful to acquire 
scientific knowledge, but only upon the condition that 
their Christian creed remain unaffected by the knowl- 
edge thus gained. If the facts of science and theology 
clash, the firist must remain subservient to the second. 
But the fame of Anselm rests not so much upon his 
orthodoxy, but is connected chiefly with the ontological 


proof for the existence of God, which he presents in his 

The ontological argument is the attempt to prove the 
existence of God from the very idea which we have of 
Him. By God we understand the greatest being that 
can be conceived. This conception is to be found in the 
intellect of every man whether orthodox or atheist. 
Since there can be nothing in the intellect which is not a 
reflection of reality, our conception of God must, there- 
fore, reflect reality. The fact alone that we think of God 
proves His existence. 

By his ontological proof of the existence of God, 
Anselm became the father of that medieval scholasti- 
cism whose most striking feature is word realism. This 
method of argument testifies to the critical innocence 
of the medieval mind. Because many people can con- 
jure up the devil does not mean that he is a reality. 
If Anselm's ontological proof is valid for the existence of 
God, it is equally valid for the existence of the devil. 
But not only logically, but also historically, is Anselm's 
position untenable. 

The God-consciousness of St. Augustine is not a pre- 
sumption, but a deduction. He presumes certain phe- 
nomena and attributes, such as the beautiful, the eter- 
nal, and the truth, which he imagines to be God. To 
Anselm, however, God is not a deduction, but a pre- 
sumption. "God is the most perfect being. Existence 
belongs as a condition of perfection. Thus this most 
perfect being or God must exist." In comparison to the 
ontological proof, the cosmological proof in the Old 
Testament is highly philosophical. It is based upon an 
inquiry into first causes and concludes that there must 
be an ultimate first cause, God, the creator of the uni- 


verse. The cosmological proof, although it is based 
upon a naive realism, the first stage in the development 
of the philosophical mind, is concerned with some sort of 
reality, while the ontological proof is not concerned with 
any reality. 

Although for many centuries Anselm's ontological 
proof was regarded by the clerics as the peak of medieval 
philosophical thought, it was riddled by the critics soon 
after it became a philosophical standard of Christian 
truth. The monk Gaunilo, who lived in the generation 
after Anselm, disposed of the ontological proof by the 
witty remark that if our thought of God, because He is 
a superlative, is already proof for His existence, then 
our thought of the most beautiful island must also prove 
its existence. But despite all onslaughts upon it, An- 
selm's intellectual heritage remained effective in medie- 
val philosophy. When it began to lose its potency be- 
cause of the Reformation and Renaissance, Spinoza ap- 
peared and gave it a new impetus. 


The next great medieval philosophical figure whose 
God-doctrine forms one of the backgrounds of Spmo- 
zism is Jacob Boehme. 

To him as to Father Eckhardt, God is eternal rest, a 
stillness without being, causeless, and will-less. God is 
nothing definite, but is rather an eternal nothingness 
without sorrow or joy, without quality or motion. He is 
nothing and at the same time all things; He is neither 
light nor darkness, and is divested of all reality. He is 
not essence, but at the same time the cause of all es- 
sences. He is not revealed, not even to Himself. 

This reducing of God to nothing, which is character- 


istic of both Father Eckhardt and Jacob Boehme, is also 
symbolic of all pantheism. God is either personality or 

Eckhardt, Anselm, and Boehme furnished part of the 
background for Spinoza's mysticism. From Anselm, 
Spinoza borrowed the ontological method, and from 
Eckhardt and Boehme, the doctrine of a still and mo- 
tionless God as it was first developed in India. 

In his doctrines of God and man Spinoza added little 
to the teachings of ancient oriental and medieval occi- 
dental mystics. From Buddha to Spinoza all mystics 
looked tremblingly at fate and attempted to compress 
it into eternal, immutable laws. Determinism, predes- 
tination, and pessimism were the necessary conse- 
quences of this turn of mind, for what can man hope to 
attain in a world in which everything has been prede- 
termined by the forces of eternity, even to the minutest 
details ? The wheel of fate revolved around eternal, im- 
mutable laws, enslaving both man and God. Buddha 
and Spinoza cry out as with one voice, "We are slaves of 
nature, slaves of the eternal, immutable law." This con- 
sciousness of man's eternal captivity is the kindling- 
point of the world-pictures of both great religionists. 

The eternal law is the only reality which protrudes 
from this world-concept. It alone binds nature, man, and 
God, and by its very effectiveness grinds them into 

Knowing that the eternal law is the only effective 
force, man necessarily views life from the cosmic rather 
than from the human point of view. Not sub specie boni 
but sub specie aeternitatis guides his thinking. Man be- 
comes lost in this vast universe, for he feels that he is 
only one of the countless insignificant creatures of the 
cosmos. His coming and going proceed with machine- 


like regularity and purposelessness. His heart fills with 
despair at his own unimportance and this life appears to 
him as a vale of tears. But if his own life is insignificant, 
that of his fellow-man is, at least, equally so. Man be- 
comes a-social and a-ethical and surrenders to the forces 
of eternity. Despairing of life, he is not eager to im- 
prove upon it. He discards ethics, whose aim it is to 
improve upon life by debeastializing man. Ethics also 
presumes a certain measure of freedom for man, which, 
however, is denied to him by Spinoza and Buddha. 

Overwhelmed by metaphysical fear, man becomes 
concerned only with his own soul, his own future, his 
own salvation. Only by overcoming life can he be re- 
deemed from it. He must subjugate his senses and must 
conquer his will to live. His highest aspiration is to at- 
tain the blessed state of eternal peace, the Nirvana of 
Buddha or the amor Dei intellectualis of Spinoza. 

Such a metaphysical idyl would seem to imply passiv- 
ity and eternal peace. But, strange as it may seem, its 
consequences are brutality and despotism. The Spinoza 
who says, "Obey the laws of nature, for they are the only 
reality," must also acquiesce to brute force in human 
life, for might is one of nature's blind laws. Spinoza's 
theory of the state and Buddha's indifference to the 
brutality of the caste system support the implication 
that causation as the only reality extends the realm of 
brute nature to the realm of human history. 

In the worlds of Spinoza and Buddha, man, overawed 
by the eternal immutable law, vanishes from the pic- 
ture. And with him disappear all that revolves about 
man history, ethics, politics, jurisprudence, social serv- 
ice, and true philanthropy. All that remains is the 
ceaselessly revolving wheel of fate which stares at the 
puppet show called human life. 




It seems that the German travelers abroad were the first to in- 
troduce Spinoza to the German public. Thus, Christian Kartholt, 
in his book De tnbus impostribus migrns, branded Herbert Cher- 
burg, Hobbes, and Spinoza as fakers, and complained that the 
German travelers bring back from abroad erroneous and false reli- 
gious ideals, when they "recommend Herbert, Hobbes and Spinoza 
and similar elements of religion to the German people." Deit 
Ludwig von Seekendorf, in his book Christenstaat, which appeared 
in 1685, also characterized Spinoza as a dangerous atheist. In the 
last two decades of the seventeenth century there was created in 
Germany an anti-Spinoza literature of considerable size, to which 
the most eminent theologians of the time, like Theomasius, Rap- 
polt, Cairo, and Bomenberg, contributed. By the end of the cen- 
tury a Leipzig scholar named Gamchen deemed it advisable to pub- 
lish a list of Spinoza books, entitled Catalogus scrtptorum anti- 
Spinozianorum. The main reason for the outburst against Spinoza 
was the activity of the first German Spinozist, Matthias Knutsen, 
the founder of the first German Spinozist, Matthias Knutsen, the 
founder of the religious sect of Conscintiarii, who advocated the 
abolition of organized religion and the expulsion of the priests from 
the state, because "there is neither God nor devil." The theolo- 
gians of the time felt that Spinozism, as interpreted by Knutsen, 
would in the end undermine their position. The representatives of 
organized religion were already on their guard, and when the book 
of Friednch Wilhelm Stosh, Concordta rationis Ethridi, the first 
meritorious pro Spinoza book in Germany, appeared, it caused such 
a sensation and was so bitterly decried by the representatives of 
religion that it was actually denounced from the pulpits as an atheis- 
tic document. In the Protestant churches of Breslau, for instance, 
it was announced that all those who possessed Stosh's book would 
be fined five hundred thaler and flogged. Another contemporary 
adherent of Spinoza, Theodore Ludwig Lau, published in 1717 a 
book entitled Meditattones philosophicae de mundo et homme> which 
brought grief to its author and caused him to be expelled from 
Germany, The hatred against Spinoza was extended to Spinoza's 



native country, and the theologians of the time compared the 
Netherlands with Samanah of old. 

By the end of the second decade of the eighteenth century, the 
anti-Spinoza movement in Germany had spent itself and Spinoza 
was forgotten in the Fatherland for almost six decades. 


Herder's main criticism of Spinoza is directed against his doc- 
trine of the attributes. How could Spinoza maintain that exten- 
sion or space is one of the attributes of God, since he distinguishes 
between time and eternity and thus places space on the same level 
with time? This error in Spinoza, Herder traces to the Cartesian 
influence, but, nevertheless, Herder defends Spinoza not only 
against the accusation against atheism, but also of pantheism and 
fatalism. It is nothing short of humorous when Herder tries to 
transform Spinoza's clean-cut determinism into "a lightful, think- 
ing necessity." 

Herder interprets Spinoza's Deus as a thinking, personal super- 
personal Deity. Under Herder's hand Spinoza's Deus becomes 
an ethical personality. Herder was under the impression that 
Spinoza's God is not above joy and sorrow and motion and thought, 
but is a God with ethical attributes. This thesis he develops in his 
booklet, Gott (Gotha, 1787). The fact is that more than Herder was 
a Spinozist, he was an anti-Kantian. He rejects Kant's epistemo- 
logical dualism, and insists upon the monism of recognition. It is 
the task of the process of recognition to transform variety into one- 
ness, and this, by the way, is not only typical of the human mind. 
Herder argues that all forces of nature are endowed with a gift to 
bring oneness out of a variety. To visualize the all in nature is the 
highest attainment. Carried away by a monistic enthusiasm, he 
felt himself attracted to Spinoza and recommended him warmly to 
the theologians, not only as a philosophical, but also as a religious 
source of inspiration. It is mostly for this reason that Herder pre- 
fers Spinoza to Leibnitz and Locke. See R. Hyam, Herder^ pp. 
135 and 668. 


In the lonely Jew of Amsterdam, Lessing recognized not only 
a revealer of philosophical truth but also a representative of 
general cultural progress, for every powerful expression against or- 
ganized religion was then considered symptomatic of cultural prog- 
ress. How deeply interested Lessing became not only in Spinoza, 


the theologian, but also in Spinoza, the philosopher, can easily be 
discerned from two essays on metaphysical problems in which the 
mam thesis of Spinozism is discussed with utter candor and frank- 
ness. It is no small irony of fate that both essays were addressed 
to Moses Mendelssohn, the arch anti-Spinozist. In the one essay, 
The Reality of Things outside God, Lessing tries to argue every 
metaphysical dualism out of existence and to prove that there can 
be only one philosophical truth, monism. Taking the cue from 
Spinoza that everything is in God, he argues that there can be noth- 
ing outside God and hence the world and God are not a duality but 
a oneness. Spinoza's metaphysical formula of Deus sive natura is 
here presented with frankness and lucidity. The fact that it is im- 
possible to prove the existence of the world outside God proves 
best that world and God are one. Lessing thus flatly denies the 
idea of a transmundane God and accepts the doctrine of an im- 
manent God without any reservation. But in spite of Lessmg's 
clean-cut pantheism, Moses Mendelssohn tried to save the great 
name of Lessing for traditional religiosity by asserting in his 
Morgemtunden that although Lessing denies an extramundane 
God, he did not deny an extramundane world. 

The second Spinoza essay was written in April, 1763, in the form 
of a letter to Mendelssohn. Here again Lessing tries to make his 
attitude to Spinoza as clear as possible. He contests Mendelssohn's 
assertion that Leibnitz' theory of pre-established harmony be- 
tween body and soul is also the theory of Spinoza. Lessing states 
correctly that since Spinoza is a monist, the problem of soul and 
body is solved by his very monism. Leibnitz, who admitted a divi- 
sion of body and soul, needed an outside force to unite them. Here 
again Mendelssohn either tries to save the day for orthodoxy or 
misrepresents Spinoza as a result of his misunderstanding. 

It is true that Lessing always refused to be classified as an ad- 
herent of a given philosophical system, and to this extent he was 
not a Spinozist just as he was not any other w/. However, his pan- 
theism is so outspoken and defended with so much courage and his 
admiration for Spinoza is so deep that he was more of a Spinozist 
than many of those of his contemporaries who took pride in calling 
themselves Spinozists. When Jacobi came to him and told him 
that he knows Spinoza's works better than most of his contempora- 
ries but that he cannot accept him as his philosophical spintus 
rector^ Lessing intimated to him to accept him fully and give up the 
struggle against him. It was also established beyond a shadow of a 


doubt that everything Jacobi told in his writings about Lessing's 
attitude toward Spinoza is neither over- nor understated. 

Since Lessing's influence on the march of events in Germany is 
in many respects as powerful as that of Goethe, he and Lessing's 
interest in Spinoza was more theologically motivated. It was m the 
course of his theological studies that he familiarized himself with 
Spinoza's theological political tractate in which he found his own 
theological liberalism clearly formulated. If Lessing quickly out- 
grew not only church orthodoxy but also the enlightenment move- 
ment as inaugurated by Leibnitz, it is also traceable to Spinoza's 

Lessmg and Goethe can be said to be the two most potent forces 
of Spinozism in the fatherland. Through Lessing's mediation Spi- 
noza became a force of general cultural progress in Germany while 
through Goethe he became the great literary inspiration. 


Vorlander, in his learned treatise, Goethe's Relationship to Kant, 
only proves that Goethe had an intimate knowledge of Kant, but not 
that Goethe preferred Kant to Spinoza, as Houston Stewart Cham- 
berlain maintained. Goethe grew up with the Spinoza tradition, 
and the name of the Amsterdam philosopher was known to him 
from his early youth. Goethe himself tells us that in his father's 
library he found an anti-Spinoza book, in which the philosopher 
was vilified and described as a menace to Christian humanity. 
He became interested in Spinoza and desired to ascertain whether 
or not these attacks were justified. In 1774 Goethe became an in- 
timate friend of Jacoby, who, although an anti-Spinozist, knew al- 
most all of Spinoza by heart and could never free himself entirely 
from this influence. In his autobiography, "Dichtung und Wahrhcit, 
Goethe stresses primarily the moral impression Spinoza's doctrine 
made on him. Already in his Prometheus his Spinozism finds a 
poetic expression. In Faust, however, Goethe's Spinozism bursts 
forth with full force. "Call it happiness, heart's love. I have no 
name for it. Feeling is everything. Name is sound and smoke, be- 
numbed, celestial glow. All hearts and all places proclaimed it 
under the heavenly days, each in its own language, why not I in 
mine?" In a letter to Jacoby dated June 9, 1785, Goethe says, 
"Spinoza does not prove the existence of God, but that existence is 
God, and when others call him atheist, I would rather call him the 


greatest theist and the greatest Christian." It was in the spirit of 
Spinoza, when the poet Goethe exclaimed: 

War* das Auge nicht Sonnenhaft 

Die Sonn' konnte es me erblicken 
Lage nicht in uns des Gottes eigene Kraft 

Wie konnte uns Gotthches entzucken. 

Not only Goethe's poetry but his science is Spinozistically moti- 
vated. Convinced of the oneness of nature, he approached it with 
a certainty to discover in it oneness, and his discovery of the os 
intermaxtllare in man, which influenced the development of com- 
parative anatomy, is one of the by-products of his Spinozistic 
sentiments. In his theory of the metamorphosis of the plants, 
which he expounded scientifically and poetically, he also expressed 
a good deal of Spinozism. Spinoza enabled him to read the various 
pages of nature as one book. 

Goethe respected Kant and may be described as a Kant scholar, 
but he was a Spinoza adherent. His world-picture is Spinozistic and 
not Kantian. 


Ralph Cudworth was probably one of the first Englishmen to 
busy himself with Spinoza, In his book, The True Intellectual 
Systems of the Universe (London, 1678), in discussing Spinoza's 
doctrine of miracles he says, "We find his discourse in every way 
so weak, so groundless, and inconsiderable that we could not think 
it here to deserve confutation." 

Another writer of the same period, Henry More, had already 
made a thorough study of Spinoza's work, and wrote of Spinoza's 
philosophy in the first volume of his Opera omnia (London, 1679). 
These true controversial essays belong to the most venomous pages 
ever written on Spinoza in England. Instead of refuting Spinoza, 
More calls him such names as "philosophaster" and "sophisto," 
and he speaks of the sordidus animus Spinozii. He tries to refute 
Spinoza the materialist, presuming that determinism is identical 
with materialism. In 1682 a certain William Lorimer appears with 
a criticism of Spinoza's views of the Old Testament. It is a dis- 
course proving the divine original authority of the five books of 
Moses. In 1683 an anonymous author published a booklet entitled 
Miracles, directed against Spinoza's doctrine of miracles. At the 
same time there also appeared many translations of Spinoza's 
Theological Political Tractate. Since 1680 the English bishops be- 


gan to pay more attention to Spinoza. Many of them published 
booklets against Spinoza's theology. One of these divines, Bishop 
Boyle, says that "Spinoza deserves not a place in libraries, but 
among the lowest forms of inferior animals." The whole tenor of 
Spinoza's discussion in England at that time is scarcely different 
from the Spinoza controversy in Germany. It was Spinoza's mis- 
fortune that in both Protestant countries he was primarily known 
as the author of the Theological Political Tractate ', and aroused the 
interest and ire of the divines. 

The philosopher of the time, Locke, knew little of Spinoza and 
admitted it in a conversation with the Bishop of Dorchester. When 
he discussed with the latter the question of immortality, he also 
refers to Spinoza as well as to Hobbes as those "decried men." See 
Locke, Works (London, 1812), IV, 77. 

Many historians of philosophy believe to have detected Spinozis- 
tic elements in Shaftesbury,but it is an established fact that Shaftes- 
bury did not know Spinoza at all. John Howe, in his book, The 
Living Temple (London, 1712), devotes a whole chapter to Spinoza. 
He says of Spinoza that "although he and his followers would cheat 
the world with names and with especious show of piety, his skin 
is directly leveled against all religions, as any of the most avid 
atheist is." 

The first writer of that time who found it worth while to study 
Spinoza seriously, and to take him seriously, is Samuel Clark. In 
his Collective Lectures he demonstrates the being and attributes of 
God, more particularly in answer to Messrs. Hobbes, Spinoza, and 
their followers. He examines very minutely Spinoza's monism and 
determinism and rejects both, especially determinism because it 
would transform the dynamic into a still and the active into a pas- 
sive world. He refers to Spinoza's terminology as a mere jargon, 
and words without any meaning, and says of him that he is the 
most celebrated patron of atheism of his time. 

It is noteworthy that Locke, Clark, and Howe, as well as many 
other contemporaries, when speaking of Spinoza always refer to 
him as "he and his followers," which justifies the assumption that 
Spinoza was already popular or notorious in England before the 
close of the seventeenth century. The extent of his popularity can 
best be judged by the fact that Richard Blackmore, in his famous 
poem Creation (1712), dedicates five stanzas to Spinoza. 

Neither Berkley nor Bollingbrooke, who were familiar with 
Spinoza's writings, had the slightest understanding or appreciation 
of his doctrine. Berkley speaks of Spinoza as of the celebrated 


infidel (Works [London, 1871], II, 288), or as a great leader of the 
modern infidels (II, 333). Berkley's whole attitude toward Spinoza is 
best summarized by his observation: "Allow a man the privilege to 
his own definitions of common words, and it will be no hard matter 
for him to infer conclusions which in one sense shall be true and in 
another false, at once something paradoxical and manifesting tru- 
ism. For example let that Spinoza define natural right to be natu- 
ral power, and he will easily demonstrate what every man can do 
and has a right to do. Nothing can be plainer than the folly of 
these proceedings." 

Henry Bolhngbrooke knew his Spinoza well, but his understand- 
ing of him is typical of seventeenth-century England. He couples 
Spinoza with Calvin. On account of their determinism he despises 
both. Spinoza appears to him to be very pious and obscure. See 
Bolhngbrooke, Works (London, 1809), VIII, 328-29. 

It was only with the appearance of Coleridge that any true ap- 
preciation of Spinoza in England was forthcoming. 

Many of the Spinoza biographers, commentators, and critics 
assert or imply that Spinoza's Absolute is to be regarded as a self- 
conscious individual being. Even Pollock asserts that Spinoza has 
nowhere denied God's consciousness. It is well to remember that 
Spinoza, who was an admirer of St. Paul, takes him to task for 
ascribing to God mercy, grace, wrath, etc. Spinoza explains that it 
is on account of human weakness that he accommodates his words 
to the minds of the people. The ethical personality of God is thus 
flatly denied by Spinoza. But God is not an intellectual personality 
either, because he is not a personality at all. Spinoza takes great 
pains in denying God's intellectual personality. In a passage in his 
Short Treatise (Part I, chap, vii) he says, "It is now time that we 
consider the things which are ascribed to God, but which do not 
belong to Him as omniscient, merciful, wise, etc., which things be- 
cause they are merely definite modes of the thought reality, in no 
way can exist or be conceived without the substance of which they 
are modes, and cannot be attributed to a self-existent thing. Thus 
wisdom and omniscience cannot be ascribed to the Absolute." In 
another passage of the same work, he emphasizes that "We have 
already said that no manner of thinking can be attributed to God, 
except those which are in the very things." In other words, it is 
only as the totality of being that God thinks, but as a cosmic 
principle, as the Absolute, He does not think, just asHe does not love 
or hate, desire, choose, or plan. To this conception Spinoza clung 
all his life. God's freedom, of which Spinoza speaks God being a 


gan to pay more attention to Spinoza. Many of them published 
booklets against Spinoza's theology. One of these divines, Bishop 
Boyle, says that "Spinoza deserves not a place in libraries, but 
among the lowest forms of inferior animals." The whole tenor of 
Spinoza's discussion in England at that time is scarcely different 
from the Spinoza controversy in Germany. It was Spinoza's mis- 
fortune that in both Protestant countries he was primarily known 
as the author of the Theological Political Tractate, and aroused the 
interest and ire of the divines. 

The philosopher of the time, Locke, knew little of Spinoza and 
admitted it in a conversation with the Bishop of Dorchester. When 
he discussed with the latter the question of immortality, he also 
refers to Spinoza as well as to Hobbes as those "decried men." See 
Locke, Works (London, 1812), IV, 77. 

Many historians of philosophy believe to have detected Spinozis- 
tic elements in Shaftesbury,but it is an established fact that Shaftes- 
bury did not know Spinoza at all. John Howe, in his book, The 
Living Temple (London, 1712), devotes a whole chapter to Spinoza. 
He says of Spinoza that "although he and his followers would cheat 
the world with names and with especious show of piety, his skin 
is directly leveled against all religions, as any of the most avid 
atheist is." 

The first writer of that time who found it worth while to study 
Spinoza seriously, and to take him seriously, is Samuel Clark. In 
his Collective Lectures he demonstrates the being and attributes of 
God, more particularly in answer to Messrs. Hobbes, Spinoza, and 
their followers. He examines very minutely Spinoza's monism and 
determinism and rejects both, especially determinism because it 
would transform the dynamic into a still and the active into a pas- 
sive world. He refers to Spinoza's terminology as a mere jargon, 
and words without any meaning, and says of him that he is the 
most celebrated patron of atheism of his time. 

It is noteworthy that Locke, Clark, and Howe, as well as many 
other contemporaries, when speaking of Spinoza always refer to 
him as "he and his followers," which justifies the assumption that 
Spinoza was already popular or notorious in England before the 
close of the seventeenth century. The extent of his popularity can 
best be judged by the fact that Richard Blackmore, in his famous 
poem Creation (1712), dedicates five stanzas to Spinoza. 

Neither Berkley nor Bollingbrooke, who were familiar with 
Spinoza's writings, had the slightest understanding or appreciation 
of his doctrine. Berkley speaks of Spinoza as of the celebrated 


infidel (Works [London, 1871], II, 288), or as a great leader of the 
modern infidels (11,333). Berkley's whole attitude toward Spinoza is 
best summarized by his observation: "Allow a man the privilege to 
his own definitions of common words, and it will be no hard matter 
for him to infer conclusions which in one sense shall be true and in 
another false, at once something paradoxical and manifesting tru- 
ism. For example let that Spinoza define natural right to be natu- 
ral power, and he will easily demonstrate what every man can do 
and has a right to do. Nothing can be plainer than the folly of 
these proceedings." 

Henry Bollingbrooke knew his Spinoza well, but his understand- 
ing of him is typical of seventeenth-century England. He couples 
Spinoza with Calvin. On account of their determinism he despises 
both. Spinoza appears to him to be very pious and obscure. See 
Bollingbrooke, Works (London, 1809), VIII, 328-29. 

It was only with the appearance of Coleridge that any true ap- 
preciation of Spinoza in England was forthcoming. 

Many of the Spinoza biographers, commentators, and critics 
assert or imply that Spinoza's Absolute is to be regarded as a self- 
conscious individual being. Even Pollock asserts that Spinoza has 
nowhere denied God's consciousness. It is well to remember that 
Spinoza, who was an admirer of St. Paul, takes him to task for 
ascribing to God mercy, grace, wrath, etc. Spinoza explains that it 
is on account of human weakness that he accommodates his words 
to the minds of the people. The ethical personality of God is thus 
flatly denied by Spinoza. But God is not an intellectual personality 
either, because he is not a personality at all. Spinoza takes great 
pains in denying God's intellectual personality. In a passage in his 
Short Treatise (Part I, chap, vii) he says, "It is now time that we 
consider the things which are ascribed to God, but which do not 
belong to Him as omniscient, merciful, wise, etc., which things be- 
cause they are merely definite modes of the thought reality, in no 
way can exist or be conceived without the substance of which they 
are modes, and cannot be attributed to a self-existent thing. Thus 
wisdom and omniscience cannot be ascribed to the Absolute." In 
another passage of the same work, he emphasizes that "We have 
already said that no manner of thinking can be attributed to God, 
except those which are in the very things." In other words, it is 
only as the totality of being that God thinks, but as a cosmic 
principle,as the Absolute, He does not think, just asHe does not love 
or hate, desire, choose, or plan. To this conception Spinoza clung 
all his life. God's freedom, of which Spinoza speaks God being a 


free cause means only that He is not subject to external pressure. 
Everything results from His nature, as the three angles result from 
the nature of a triangle. 

In proposition 31 of the Ethics, Spinoza goes a step farther and 
states, "Real intellect, whether it be finite or infinite, has also will, 
desire, love, etc., and must be referred to natura naturata, but not 
to natura naturans. In one of his letters he repeats, "I think I have 
demonstrated clearly enough that intellect, even tho infinite, be- 
longs to natura naturata and not to natura naturans. Amor Dei 
intellectual** has nothing m common with the religious term "love 
of God/' In Ethics, V, 32, Cor., Spinoza defines it. "From the 
third kind of knowledge arises necessarily the intellectual love of 
God. From this kind of knowledge arises joy, accompanied by the 
idea of God as cause. That is the love of God, not as He is present- 
ed by the imagination, but as perceived by the intellect to be eter- 
nal; and that is what I call the intellectual love of God." The third 
kind of knowledge is sctentia tntuittva y about which Spinoza him- 
self confesses that the things he himself has learned from this sci- 
ence are extremely few in fact, none and thus admits that never 
having learned anything worth while from intuition, he never has 
experienced an intellectual love of God, which arises only from 
intuitive science. But, nevertheless, Spinoza has always been de- 
scribed as a God-intoxicated Jew, who stood nearer to God than 
any other mortal. 

But what is the famous amor Dei mtellectuahs? It is nothing else 
but intellectual joy as the result of an intellectual process. To 
Spinoza love is not a relationship to the object, but the knowledge 
of it. This is not extreme but eccentric rationalism. The highest 
good is not God but is intellectual experience in sola speculatwne et 
fura mente. Spinoza's Deus, like that of Buddha's Brahma, is 
above love and hate, joy and sorrow, and has nothing whatsoever 
to do with the term "God." In this connection it may be interest- 
ing to note that less than fifty years after Spinoza's death a theolo- 
gian by the name of Jean le Clerc published a statement which is to 
be found in Volume XXII of the Bibhothique anctenne et moderne 
(Geneva, 1724), in which the assertion is made that in the original 
version of Spinoza's Ethics the word Deus or "God" never appears, 
but that it was interpolated after his death and substituted for the 
word natura. Jean le Clerc was minister of an extremely reformed 
Christian sect in the Netherland, and a well-known biblical scholar 
and editor of the work Erasmus and Hugo Grotius. He was a well- 
reputed man and honest scholar. There is no reason to suspect his 


honesty and earnestness of purpose. In the statement referred to 
above he says, "I have it from a very trustworthy man, who gave 
it to me in writing, that Spinoza has composed his Ethica in 
Flemish and that he gave it to a physician by the name of Louis 
Meyer to translate it into Latin, and that in the Flemish text the 
word God never occurred, but nature, which Spinoza conceived as 
eternal being. The translator was afraid of the terrible scandal that 
would follow from the publication of a book in which the existence 
of God is denied and he, therefore, substituted the word God for 
the word nature. Nature is a more proper word to emphasize not 
the creator, but creation or creature. Spinoza approved of this 
change and the book appeard just as Meyer advised him." 

Fritz Mauthner, who published the text of Le Clerc's statement 
in its French original in the second volume of his Atheism and Its 
History in the West^ observes that although he has no reason to 
mistrust the sincerity and honesty of Le Clerc, the fact stated by 
Le Clerc seems dubious to him, for in many passages of the Ethics 
the term natura instead of Deus would make the entire work unin- 
telligible. But whatever the case, it is certain that Spinoza's Deus, 
being stripped of everything godly and being nothing in itself, has 
no resemblance to any positive God idea. 


Modern historiography is decidedly against the assumption that 
the Alexandrian Logos doctrine is to be traced to the Logos idea 
of Heraclitus. Spengler observes in reference to the Alexandrian 
Logos, "Der eigentliche Kernbegriff des gesamten Denkens der 
Pseudomorphose ist der Logos, in seiner Anwendung und Ent- 
wicklung ihr getreues Sinnbild. Von einer Einwirkung griech- 
ischen antiken Denkens kann gar kerne Rede sein; es lebte da- 
mals kein Mensch, in dessen geistiger Anlage der Logosbegriff 
Heraklits und der Stoa auch nur von fern Platz gefunden hatte." 

SPENGLER, OSWALD. Der Untergang des Abendlandes^ II, 281. 

See also WEBER, J. S. Indische Studien, IX, 473. 

DEUSSEN, P. Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophic, I, 146. 

WILLMANN, OTTO. Geschichte des Ideahsmus^ II, 89^90. 

MAX MULLER'S three lectures on the Vedanti philosophy. 

Modern Protestant theologians, HOLTZMANN, GUNKEL, and many 
others, are also inclined to the view that the New Testament 
religiosity is an oriental and not an occidental product. 


See GUNKLEL'S interpretation of the New Testament in the Montsf, 

xin, 398-455- 

In view of all these facts and expert opinion, it is difficult to 
understand what made Dean Inge assume (The Philosophy of 
Plotmus, I, 1 8) that the Logos of Plotinus is so different from the 
Logos of Christianity. A. Aall, in The History of the Logos Idea 
(Leipzig, 1896), confines himself to the history of the Logos in 
Greek philosophy and in orthodox fashion links the Alexandrian 
Logos idea to that of Heraclitus and the Stoics. Whether he was 
ignorant of the ancient Hindu model of the Greek Logos or whether 
he purposely confined himself only to the Greek Logos idea, with- 
out wishing to enter into a discussion about its origin, need not be 
discussed here. 

See also REVEILLE, J. La doctrine du Logos dans les Gnostics, 
hang. Paris, 1881. 

Also HINGE, W. R. Personal Idealism and Mysticism. London, 

SIMON, T. Der Logos. Leipzig, 1902. 

HEINZE, J. M. Die Lekre von Logos in der gnech Philosophic. 
Oldenberg, 1872. 

LUDWIG, A. DerRigveda, I, 164; II, 644. 

EDMUNDS, ALBERT J. Buddhistic and Christian Gospels^ Being Gos- 
pels Parallel from Pali Texts. Philadelphia, 1908. 

The old muted question which occupied theologians for over a 
half-century, whether Christianity has influenced later Buddhism 
or vice versa, was once and for all settled by the publication of 
Edmunds, Buddhistic and Christian Gospels. Even a superficial 
perusal of these parallels will convince the reader that there is 
scarcely to be found anything in the Christian gospels which cannot 
be found in the Pali text of the Buddhistic gospels, which by far 
antedate the birth of Christianity. 

The foremost Christian myth is that of the supernatural and 
holy birth of Jesus. In comparing the Buddhistic with the Chris- 
tian legend of nativity, it would seem that the former has little in 
common with the latter. But still one need only read the dialogue 
on "Wonders and Marvels," Middling Collection, Dialogue 123, to 
be convinced that the legend sounding the birth of Buddha is also 
based on miracles and wonders and are attended by supernatural 


" 'Anando, when the future Buddha is descending into his 
mother's womb, the four sons of the angels, who keep watch over 
the four quarters, approach him and say: "Neither mortal nor de- 
mon shall harm the future Buddha or his mother." ' 

" 'Anando, when the future Buddha is descending into his 
mother's womb, she is pure from sexuality, has abstained from 
taking life, from theft, from evil conduct in lusts, from lying, and 
from all kinds of wine and strong drink, which are a cause of irre- 

" 'Anando, when the future Buddha is descending into his 
mother's womb, there arises, not in his mother any lustful intent 
toward men, and she is inviolable by the impure thought of any 

" 'Anando, when the future Buddha is descending into his 
mother's womb, she is possest of the five pleasures of the senses: 
she is surrounded by, establisht in, and endowed with the five 
pleasures of the senses.' 

" 'Anando, when the future Buddha is descending into his 
mother's womb, she has no sickness at all, but is happy, with her 
body free from pain, and sees the future Buddha transparently in 
the womb (literally , gone across the womb) in full possession of all 
his limbs and faculties. Even as a cat's-eye gem, Anando, being 
radiant, fine, octagonal and well wrought, is therefore strung upon 
a dark blue string, or upon a tawny, or a red, or a white, or a yellow 
string, so that any man with eyes, upon taking it in his hand, may 

reflect: "This cat's-eye gem, being radiant, etc is therefore 

strung upon this dark blue string, or .... yellow string," .... 
even so, Anando, when the future Buddha is descending into his 
mother's womb, she has no sickness at all, but is happy, with her 
body free from pain, and sees him transparently in the womb, 
in full possession of all his limbs and faculties/ 

" 'Moreover, Anando, while other women bring forth after a 
gestation of nine or ten months, the future Buddha's mother does 
not act in the usual way with him: just ten months does she carry 
the future Buddha before she brings him forth/ 

" 'Moreover, Anando, while other women bring forth sitting or 
lying down, the future Buddha's mother does not bring him forth 
in the usual way: she actually brings him forth standing/ 

" 'Anando, when the future Buddha leaves his mother's womb, 
he does not touch the earth: four sons of the princes (evangels) 
receive him and present him to his mother. "May Your Majesty be 
blessed," they say, "unto you is born an eminent son." ' 


" 'Anando, when the future Buddha leaves his mother's womb, 
he leaves it quite clean, undefiled with matter or blood, but pure, 
clean and undefiled by any impurity. As in the case, Anando, of a 
gem or a jewel laid in Benares doth, the gem or jewel does not defile 
the Benares cloth at all, nor the Benares cloth the jewel or the gem 
(and why? because they both are pure): even so, Anando, when 

the future Buddha leaves his mother's womb, etc undefiled 

by any impurity/ 

" 'Anando, the new-born future Buddha stands sheer upright on 
his feet, walks northwards with a seven-paced stride, with a white 
canopy held over him, and looking forth in all directions, utters the 
taurine speech, "I am the chief in the world, I am the best m the 
world. I am the eldest in the world. This is my last existence: 
I shall now be born no more/ 

" 'Anando, when the future Buddha leaves his mother's womb, 
then in the world of the angels, together with those of Maro and 
Brahma and unto the race of philosophers and Brahmins, princes 
and peoples, there appears a splendor limitless and eminent, tran- 
scending the angelic might of the angels; and even in the boundless 
realms of space, with their darkness upon darkness, where yonder 
sun and moon, so magical, so mighty, are felt not in the sky, there 
too apears the splendor limitless and eminent, transcending the 
very might of the angels, so that beings who are born there con- 
sider among themselves by reason of that splendor: "Friend, it is 
said that other beings are born here, in this myriad-fold universe 
quakes and shakes and tremendously trembles, a splendor limitless 
and eminent appears in the world, transcending even the angelic 
might of the angels." * " 


Matt. 25:44,45 

"Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an 
hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, 
and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, say- 
ing, "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of 
these least, ye did it not unto me." 


John 7:38 

He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his 
belly shall flow rivers of living water." 



Patisambhida-maggo, 1. 53 

"What is the Tathagato's (Christ's) knowledge of the twin 
miracle? In this case, the Tathagato (Christ) works a twin miracle 
unrivaled by disciples: from his upper body proceeds a flame of 
fire, and from his lower body proceeds a torrent of water. Again 
from his lower body proceeds a flame of fire, and from his upper 
body a torrent of water." 


Mark 8:11, 12 

"And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with 
him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he 
sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek 
a sign? Verily, I say unto you, there shall no sign be given unto this 

Minor Section on Disciple, V, 8 
(C.T. Mahicasaka Vinayo, trans, in SBE, XX, 81) 

"Ye are not, O monks, to display psychical power or miracle of 
superhuman kind before the laity. Whoever does so is guilty of a 


John 1:14 and 18 

"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we behold his 
glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace 

and truth No man hath seen God at any time: the only 

begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared 

Numerical Collection, IV, 36 (S.T. in Samyukta) 

"Once the Lord had entered upon the main road between High- 
town and White-town. Now Dono the Brahmin entered it likewise. 
And he saw the wheels on the Lord's feet, with their thousand 
spokes, their tires and naves, and all their parts complete. Having 
seen them, he thought to himself: 'Wonderful and marvelous in- 
deed! These cannot be the feet of a human being/ 

"Then the Lord, stepping aside from the road, sat at the root of a 
tree in the posture of meditation, holding his body erect, looking 


straight before him, and collecting his mind. And Dono the Brah- 
min, following the Lord's feet, saw him sitting at a tree-root with 
serene and pleasing looks, his faculties and mind at peace, with the 
highest control and calm, in the attainment (of trance), subdued 
apd guarded- Upon seeing the hero (literally, the elephant) with 
his faculties at peace, he approacht the Lord and said: 

" 'Are you not an angel?' 

" 'No, Brahmin: I am not an angel.' 

" 'Are you not a celestial genius?' 

" 'No, Brahmin: I am not.' 

" 'Are you not a gobhn ?' 

" 'No Brahmin: I am not a goblin.' 

" 'Are you not a man ?' 

" 'No, Brahmin: i AM NOT A MAN.' " 


John 16:33 
"Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world." 

Numerical Collection, IV, 36 (S.P. in Samyukta) (i) 
"I am born in the world, grown up in the world, and having over- 
come the world, I abide by the same undefiled." 


John 103:12 
"Jesus spake unto them, saying, I am the light of the world/, 

John 9: 5, 6 

"When I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he 
had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the 
spittle, and anointed his EYES with the clay." 

Classified Collection, LVI, 38 (C.T. in Chinese) 
"Even so, monks, so long as there arises no Tathagato (Christ), 
a Holy One, a perfect Buddha, so long is there no appearance of 
great glory, of great splendor. Then is there gloom and darkness 
dense. There is no proclamation of the Four Noble Truths, no 
preaching thereof, no publication, no establishment, no exposition, 
analysis, elucidation. But when, O monks, a Tathagato (Christ), a 
Holy One, a perfect Buddha, ariseth in the world, then is there ap- 
pearance of great glory and of splendor great; gloom and dense 
darkness are no more; then is there proclamation of the Four Noble 


Truths; there is preaching thereof, publication, establishment, ex- 
position, analysis, elucidation." 

Long Collection, Dialogue 16 (C.T. 2) 

"Too soon will the Lord enter Nirvana! Too soon will the 
Auspicious One enter Nirvana! Too soon will the Light of the 
World {literally, Eye in the World) vanish away!" 


John 18:37 

"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus 
answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end have I been 
born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear 
witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my 

(Double Text: Collection of Sutta and Middling Collection 

Dialogue 92) (i) 
"I am a King, O Selo! 
An incomparable King of religion: 
By religion I set rolling a wheel, 
An Irresistible wheel." 


Revelation V, 5 

"Weep not: behold the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the 
Root of David, hath overcome, to open the book and the seven 
seals thereof." 

These are only a few examples copied from Edmunds' two vol- 
umes of the parallel gospels. 


FISHER, KUNO. SpinozasLeben,WerkeundLehre. Heidelberg, 1898. 
FREUDENTHAL, J. Spinoza Leben und Lehre, ed. CARL GEBHARDT. 

Heidelberg, 1927. 
JANET, PAUL. "History of Spinozism in France," Rev. philos., 

Vol. XIII. 

GRUNWALD, M. Spinoza in Deutschland. Berlin, 1897. 
ERDMAN, JOHANN EDUARD. "About Spinoza's Influence in Hol- 

land," History of Philosophy, II, 88-89. 



GEBHARDT, CARL (ed.)- Spinoza Opera. Heidelberg. 

JOEL, CARL. Zr Genesis der Lehre Spinozas. Breslau, 1871. 

POLLOCK, SIR FREDERICK. Spinoza. London, 1904. 

WOLFSON, HARRY. "Spinoza's Definition of Substance and Modi," 

Chronicon Spinozanum y I, 10112. 
HUSIK, ISAAC. History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy. New York, 

MAUTHNER, FRITZ. Der Atheismus und zeine Geschichte in Abend- 

lande y II, 347^7^- 

DILTHEY, WILHELM. Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. II. Leipzig, 1923. 
ALEXANDER, BERNARD. Spinoza. Budapest, 1923. 
EISLER, RUDOLPH. Geschichte des Monismus. Leipzig, 1910. 
KRONENBERG, M. Die All Einheit in Geiste Goethes und Spinozas. 

Stuttgart, 1924. 

STEIN, LTTDWIG. Leibnitz und Spinoza. Berlin, 1890. 
VORLANDER, CARL. Von Machiavelli bis Lenin. Leipzig, 1926. 

(See special chapter, "Spinoza und Mandeville.") 
RICHTER, R. "Spinoza's Method," Essays. 


WINTERNITZ, M. Geschichte der indischen Literatur. Leipzig, 1908 

FARQUHAR, J. N. An Outline of the Religious Literature of India. 

Oxford, 1920. 
DEUSSEN, P. Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophic, Band I. 

Leipzig. 1894-1908. 
OLTRAMARE, P. Uhistoire des id6es thSosophiques dans Flnde* I: 

La thSosophie brahmanique. Paris, 1906. 
OLDENBERG, H. Die Lehre der Upanishaden und die Anfange des 

Buddhismus. Gottingen, 1915. 

KERN, H. Manual of Indian Buddhism. Strasburg, 1896. 
RHYS DAVID, C. A. F. Buddhism: A Study of Its Norm. 
STCHERBATSKY. The Soul Theory of the Buddhists. Petersburg, 

1920. de la Vallee Poussin, L. Bouddhisme. Paris, 1909. 
WASSILJEW, W. Der Buddhismus (deutsch von Schiefner). Peters- 
burg, 1860. 
OLDENBERG, H. Buddha. Berlin, 1923. 



Adikes, Erich, 117 

Alexander of Macedonia, 305 

Anselm of Canterbury, 359. 

An s to tie, conception of, of man, 39, 62 

Arnold, Mathew, and Spinoza, 45, 90 

Augustine, St , 5, 61, 204, 303, 340, 344, 
345, 346, 347, originator of occidental 
Christian dogma, 341 ; predecessor of 
Descartes, 341, as a Mamchean he 
persecutes all anti-Mamcheans and 
as a Christian he persecutes all Ma- 
nicheans, 342, his God is the time- 
less, attributeless Oneness, removed 
from all reality, and is a dead deity, 
343, like Buddha, he calls wisdom or 
reason God's Son, 346, 350, 351, 352, 
35 6 > 359, 36o 

Avenanus, Richard H., 30, 1 53. 

Bacon, Francis, one of the sources of 
Spinoza's terminology and natural- 
ism, 201 

Balfour, A. J., 145 

Bayle, 37, 55 

Berendt, Martin, 74 

Bergson, Henri, 75 

Berkeley, 157,373 

Bible, the, is anthropocentnc, 11 

Bismarck, 48 ; and Spinoza, 32, 34; spirit 
of the rule of the bourgeoisie, 34 

Blackmore, Richard, 372 

Boehme, Jacob, 154, 155 

Bollmgbrooke, Henry, 372 

Boniface VIII, 17 

Bouffon, 46 

Brahma, the dead god, 12 

Brandt, L., 3 H 

Bruner, Constantme, 62 

Bruno, 18; rhapsodist, 50; greatest mar- 
tyr in the history of philosophy, 50 

Buckle, 4 

Buddha, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 159, 204, 257, 258, 
2 59> 3*4, 347> 35; not concerned 
with lot of lower casts, 14, 15; like 
Spinoza, he resorted to the theory of 
double causation, 260; karma of, and 
cuptditas of Spinoza, 261 ; considers 
hie elemental misfortune, 264; theory 
of non-knowledge, 265; determinism 
of, 266, ethics: passive, utilitarian; 
Buddha not interested in man and 
hence indifferent to the status quo y 
272; never encouraged speculation 
about Nirvana, like Spinoza, he is an 
mtellectualist and a Salvationist; like 
Spinoza, he is a determmist, like Spi- 
noza, he explains that desire is the 
ongin of life; like Spmoza, he is dis- 
interested in man, 274; Brahma of, 
is the prototype of Spinoza's Deus; 
both are dead deities, 274; unlike 
Spinoza, he begins with suffering not 
with God, like Spinoza, he represents 
tragic types of consciousness, 275; 
world-picture of, etched upon an 
Eastern canvas, Spinoza's upon a 
Western screen, 275; mother of, the 
holy virgin Maya Devi, 322 

Buddhism: as a tendency in history, 2, 
5; negates life, 9; coequal with pes- 
simism, 12; closing m on Palestine, 
302, destroying Judaism, 302; Bud- 
dhistic Trinity: Buddha, Darmah, 
and Samgha God-father, God-son 
or Logos, and the Holy Spirit, 307 

Cabams, 70 

Calvin, 351 

Carlyle, 87; and Spinoza, 88 

Chamberlain, Houston Stewart, 16, 58 

Christianity, synthesis of Eastern uni- 

versalism and Hebraic and Western 

individualism, 12 
Clairvaux, Bernard de, 155, 356 




Clemenceau, 48 

Cohen, Herman, 6, 20; revives Kant, 62 

Colebrooke, D., 305 

Coleridge, 87, and Spinoza, 88 

Condillac, 36 

Confucius, 6 

Cousin, Victor, 91 ; and Spinoza, 92 

Cudworth, Ralph, 374 

Davids, Rhys, 273 

Delamettrie, 70, 113 

Descartes, 22, 91, 116, 183, 218, 351 

Deybng, 51, 80 

Diderot, 36 

Dilthey, Wilhelm, 57 

Dostoievsky, 8 

Duns Scotus, 357 

Eckhardt, Master, 357, 358, 359 
Edmunds, Albert J., 323 
Empedocles, 201, 305 
Erdmann, E. J., 205, 206, 354 
Essenes, the, a Buddhistic but not a 
Jewish sect, 303, 317, 324; origin of, 


Ethics: logic of a living God, 15; not 
born in the emotions, 16; of Spinoza 
like Buddhistic ethics, utilitarians, 

Fichte, the philosophical patron saint of 
the Romantic movement; made the 
ego, the center and source of all 
things, 65; overwhelmed by spirit of 
Spinoza, 65, attempt of synthesis of 
the philosophies of Kant and Spino- 
za, 66; denies a personal God, 66; 
meant to secure a basis for ethical 
idealism, 66, a Salvationist rather 
than an ethicist, 66 

Fischer, Kuno, 153, 205, 210 

French Revolution, ignores Spinoza, 37 

Freudenthal, Jacob, 205 

Fnedlander, Gerhardt, 332 

Fnedlander, Julius, 74 

Garbe, Richard, 305 

Germans, the, responsible for the re- 

discoveries of the Bible, Spinoza, and 

Shakespeare, 50 
Gnosticism, 308, 312 
Goethe and Spinoza, 55, 119, 255, 288; 

young Goethe and Spinoza, 57, 85 
Gorki, Maxim, 30 
Graetz, H., 91, 324 
Greco, El, 119 

Haekel, Ernst, 113 

Hamann, Magus of the North, 155 

Harnack, A , 343 

Hartmann, Eduard von, 16, 205, 208, 
209, 216, admits Spinoza's influence, 

Hastil, D., 116 

Hebraic individualism, 10; monothe- 
ism, 9 

Hegel, and Spinoza, 35; in Hegel, Spi- 
noza reached the height of his influ- 
ence on the German mind, 68; pan- 
logicist, 70; like Maimon and Schel- 
ling, he identifies Spinoza with acos- 
mism; accepts Spinoza's monism; his 
critic of Spinoza is doctrine of sub- 
stance, 70; creates a, synthesis of 
Spinoza's universalism and his own 
individualism, 71; philosophy dis- 
solved into its component parts after 
his death; is a combination of the 
theories of Heraclitus, Plato, Spino- 
za, and Schelling; is nevertheless the 
most influential philosopher of the 
nineteenth century, 71; said that in 
order to refute Spinoza one must first 
accept him, 71; at first defended 
Spinoza against the approach of athe- 
ism and immorality, 72; at the end 
he not only rejected but scorned 
Spinoza, stressing the true Christian 
nature of his own philosophy and in- 
compatibility of Spinozism with 
Christianity, 72; Hegelians do not 
share the master's view of Spinoza* 

Hegehanism, lines sharply drawn, 25 



Heine, Hemrich, and Spinoza, 45, 97 

Helmholtz, 116, 189 

Helvetius, 70 

Hemans, F , 58 

Herachtus, 201, 259, 305, 312 

Hillel, 23 

Hindu mind-abstract: devoid of all sub- 
stantiality, 239; m philosophical 
thought monistic, 240, Atman co- 
equals Spinoza's substance, 241; re- 
garded Brahma a logical principle 
the first-born, Spinoza called think- 
ing the Son of God, 241 , metaphysics 
rejects empiric knowledge, 242; phi- 
losophy is atheistic, 243; theory of 
Samsara, 246; yearning for salva- 
tion Atman a dead deity, 248; At- 
man's attributes a criticism of life, 
249; conception of knowledge Vi- 
dahya, 254; theory of karma, 255 

Hindu universahsm, 10 

Hitlensm, Hegehanism via Spengler, 35 

Hobbes, 42, 183, state, suspended law 
of nature, 43 

Holbach, 36, 70, 113 

Holderlm, 69 

Howe, John, 372 

Hume, 157 

Isaiah, 8, 9 

Ivan the Terrible, Lenin's background, 

Jacobi: presents Spinoza as a German, 
54; recognizes in Spinoza the root of 
modern materialism and identical 
with atheism and so fights him to a 
finish, 54 

Jehova, the living God, 12 

Jeremiah, 9 

Jesus, 4 , 14, 83, 3*5, 3*a, 3*4, 3*5, 347? 
a Nordic, 58; His religiosity Bud- 
dhistic but not Jewish, 318; His af- 
firmation of the Kingdom of God the 
denial of earthliness, 319; incarna- 
tion of the apocalyptic spirit, 320; 
renounces Judaism by renouncing 

earthJiness, 320, of little importance 
whether He was a Jew by race, 321 

Jodl, Friednch, 47, 48 
John, St, 303, 31 1, 317, 31 8 
Jones, Sir William, 304 
Josephus, 310 

Judaism, affirms life, 9; coequal with 
optimism, 12; matter of the ear not 
of the eye, n8; abstract, puritanic, 
legalistic, 119, time, not space; rea- 
son not emotion, history, not geog- 
raphy, 120; fear of God in contradis- 
tinction to Amor Det, 121, no rela- 
tionship to biological nature, 123; 
God-concept of, 125, God is alive, 
free, omniscient, and omnipotent, 
126, God is master and teacher, 127; 
man's ethical guide, 128 , eschatology 
of, and its meaning of history, 130 

Kant, Immanuel, 14, 20, 75, 83, 206, 
286, 291 ; spoke in terms of categori- 
cal imperative, 5; completed the 
work of Martin Luther, 60 ; and bib- 
lical metaphysics, 61; crushed by 
Spinoza and Maimon, 6i; and the 
Old Testament, 61, Spinoza's only 
adversary m the West, 62; created 
the only school of thought, 62, very 
embodiment of idealism, 62; ends 
with God, 63; created only a new 
school of philosophy, 64; established 
the frontiers of the human mind, 64; 
of concern to philosophers only, 64; 
objectivism of, 65; subjectivism of, 
65, and Judaism, 84, like Spinoza, he 
had a negative attitude to the Old 
Testament, 84; view of the Old Testa- 
ment shared by Fichte, Hegel, and 
Schelling, 85, and modern science, 
116, theory of the axiom, 191 

Kantianism: lines sharply drawn, 25; 
product of man's critical mind, 64 

Karthold, Christian, 367 

Kellerznann, Benzion, 205 

King, William, 309 

Kirchman, von, 116 

Klopstock, 24 


Lachman, Benedict, 33 

Lanson, 105 

Laotze, 6 

Lau, Theodore Ludwig, 367 

Law of history and nature, i 

LeClerc, Jean, 374 

Legalistic religiosity, grammar of con- 
science for all men, 15 

Leibnitz, 5, 20, 81, 116, political ideal- 
ist, influenced by Plato, 44 

Lenin, Nikolai, 34, 48, class struggle a 
metaphysical category, 30; great in- 
quisitional figure, also concerned 
with saving souls, 30; a Spmozist, 3 1 , 
and Spinoza, 31; state of, proclaims 
Spinoza Russia's philosophical pa- 
tron saint, 31; spirit of the prole- 
tariat, 34 

Leninism, regime of the Inquisition, 30 

Lessing, Ephraim Gotthold, 8 1, 82, 83; 
calls Mendelssohn a second Spinoza, 

Lieberman, Max, 118 

Lincoln, Abraham, 48 

Litzbarsky, 0., 311 

Locke, 157 

Logos: that of Philo and Heraclitus, 
313; Buddhistic elements of, 314, 349 

Lonmer, William, 374 


Luther, Martin, 2x8; creator of new Ger- 
man language, 24 
Luzzato, S. D., 144 

Mach, E., 30, 189 

Machiavelli, 42 

Maimon, Solomon, 61, 70, 145; first to 

introduce Spinoza to Eastern Jewry, 

MaimomdeSj God of deindividualized 

but still an ethical personality, 137, 

195, *49 
Mandeism, 312, 317 

Mamcheism, 336 

Maraon, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339 

Marx, Karl, 4, 23, 31, 154 

Megasthenes, first Western ambassador 
to the court of Patna, 306 

Mendelssohn, Moses, 143, 369 

Messiah: apotheosis of Old Testament 
religiosity and optimism, 12, versus 
Nirvana, 300; versus Brahma, 301, 
national political figure, 320 

Micha, 9 

Mill, John Stuart, 189 

Miller, Johannes, 113 

Milton, 24 

Monotheism' born m the desert, 277; 
cradle of personality, 277; and geog- 
raphy, 279, not to be identified with 
monism, connotes a living God, 286 

Montaigne, 22 

Montesquieu and Spinoza, 37 

Morality, logic of a dead God, 15; re- 
action of, to physical suffering, 16 

More, Henry, 374 

Moses, 5, 9; historicity of, unimpor- 

Mosheim, 80; and Spinoza, 51 

Mueller, Max, 288; places Hebraism in 
juxtaposition to Buddhism, 294, 323 

Napoleon, 3, 7, 65 

New Testament: opens with biography, 
ii; lacking in the science of man, 14 

Newman, Francis, and Spinoza, 89 

Nietzsche, 4, 6, 8, 10, 34; and Spinoza, 
33; spirit of the rule of the superman, 

Nirvana (the state of not being), 12, 
270, 271, 348; visualized by Buddha 
as expiring flame, and is the state 
beyond pain and sorrow (Nirvana as 
upadhisesa; Nirvana as anupadhist- 
), 273 

Nordau, Max, 145 

Old Testament: crowded with powerful 
figures, xo; full of biography, ii; 
book of hunger, n; formulated the 



science of man, 14, 21 , living figures 
of, captivated Western man, 25, 
rather eschatology than archaeology, 
77, not concerned with the world be- 
yond a book of sturdy optimism, 
281, optimism of, not empiric, 282; 
optimism of, mtellectualistic, 283, 
ethics of, correlated to logic, 285; 
ethics of, gift of a living God to man, 

289, not a textbook of metaphysics, 

290, a book of man for man, 298; 
three salient features, doctrines of 
free will, primacy of intellect, and 
affirmation of life, 309 

Oldenberg, M., 273 

Osaka, the Constantme of Buddhism, 
305* 307 

Pantheism: Eastern is mystical while 
Western is intellectual, 159; in an- 
cient Greece the conclusion, in an- 
cient India the starting-point, 159; 
in India it shows man the way to 
self-destruction, 161; Eastern pan- 
theism ascetic, Western hedomc, 162, 
of Spinoza, Eastern not Western, 
163; born in the jungle, 277; grave of 
personality, 278; connotes a dead 
God, 286 

Pascal, 87 

Pasmanik, D., 23 

Paul, St., 5, 9, 14, 15, , *2, 2 3, aol > 
204, 33, 3 a 5> 338, 339, 343, 347, 35, 
356; scheme of redemption like that 
of Buddha, 320; family of, 326; epi- 
leptic and neurotic, 327; like Buddha 
and Spinoza, he renounces all earthly 
pleasures, 327; unmoved by beauty, 
328, love for the metropolis, 328; real 
founder of Christianity, 328, at- 
tracted by the dynamic West, 329; 
ignores the historical Jesus, 330; in- 
validates Judaism, 331; starting- 
point of, the worthlessness of life is 
Buddhistic; so is eschatalogy of, 331 ; 
like Buddha, he identifies flesh with 
sin; like Buddha, he has the greatest 
contempt for life, 332; Kingdom of 
God of, only a Western copy or anal- 
ogy to Buddhistic Nirvana, 334; 

Christ of, as a-historic as Brahma, 

Paulus, a Kantian, first German trans- 
lator of Spinoza's works, 62 

Peiper, Karl, 328 

Pelagius, 339, 340 

Philo of Alexandria, 309, 310, 312, 314, 
333, 337, 348, Logos of, a Greek edi- 
tion of the Hindu Vach, 334 

Pilatus, Pontius, 315 

Plato, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14, 286, 305 

Plotinus, 348 

Pollock, F., 373 

Prophets of Israel, 5, 6, 14, 286, 338 

Ptolemy of Alexandria, 306 

Pythagoras, 303, 304, 305 

Rabelais, 22 

Redemptive religiosity, appeals to low- 
ly, 15 

Reformation, formulated science of 
man, 14 

Reitzenstem, Richard, 311 

Renan and Spinoza, 45, 46, 91, 92 

Renouvier, 75 

Robespierre, 3 

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 36, theory of, 
of a nation, 47, 53 

Rubin, Solomon, 145 

Sankara: highest expression of Hindu 
monism, 251, 357; theory of Oneness, 
252, Sankara and Spinoza, 253 

Schelling, 70; made Spinozism the cor- 
nerstone of his system, 66, absolute 
Oneness of Spinoza central motif m 
philosophy of, 67; cosmos vitalistic 
of, not mechanistic, 68 

Schiller, Fnednch, and Goethe, 58; ap- 
plies Spinoza's umversalism to in- 
ternationalism of his drama, 58 

Schleiermacher: theory of religiosity of, 
86; influenced by Spinoza, 87 

Schopenhauer: and Spinoza, 6, 16, 157; 
admitted indebtedness to Spinoza, 
73; recognizes m Spinoza's Deus the 



old Jehovah minus personality, 73, 
criticizes Spinoza's alleged optimism, 
74, admits that Spinoza and Bruno 
stand out conspicuously in the realm 
of thought, 74, recognized in Spinoza 
an Eastern plant on Western soil, 74, 
Spinoza's cupidttas and Schopen- 
hauer's Wille, 75 
Schroeder, Leopold von, 304 
Schwartz, Carl, 52 
Selenms of Antioch, 306 
Seydel, Rudolph, 324, compares striking 
similarity of legends of royal origin 
and holy conception of Buddha and 
Jesus, 322 
Socrates, 5, 38, 218 
Sokolov, N., 145 
Spencer, Herbert, 75 
Spengler, Oswald, 35, 70 
Spinoza, 5, 9, 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, 36, 
39, 42, 348, 359; Benedictus and 
Maledictus, 19; influences both ideal- 
ists and romanticists, 38; mechanist, 
41, nature governed by laws of ab- 
solute causation, 41; no conception 
of history, 41 , state, tamed beast, 43; 
politics appeals to Bolshevik and 
Junker alike, 45; saint and Machia- 
vellist, 46, acosmist, 47; seer, 49; 
monism, 49; first prominent monist 
and pantheist, 50, attracted every 
great German philosopher with ex- 
ception of Kant and Herbart, 51; 
already known in Germany during 
last years of seventeenth century, 51 ; 
character attacked by first opponents 
in Germany, 51; emerges victor in 
fight with scholasticism and hair- 
splitting rationalism, 52, overshad- 
owed by Descartes m France, 53, 
eliminated from English philosophi- 
cal thought by English empiricists, 
53, and Lessing, 53; and Mendels- 
sohn, 54, universalism introduces in 
Germany spiritual nationalism, 56; 
and Goethe, one of the most impor- 
tant chapters in the history of mod- 
ern culture, 58 ; and Kant, two polar 
forces in the history of modern 
thought, 59, overwhelmed Kant in 

the Vaterland, 60, the anti-Jew over- 
whelms Kant, "the Jew," 6i; gave 
birth to new culture and religion, 62, 
representative of extreme natural- 
ism, 62, begins with God, 63, created 
new world-picture, 64, reconstructed 
new world out of old one, 64, at- 
tracts attention of everybody, 64; 
universalism, 65, theory of religion, 
78; representative of higher criticism, 
79, belittles the Bible, 79; first 
' northerner to make direct attack 
upon the Bible, So, rationalist, 85, 
influence of, on modern poetry, 93; 
and Goethe, 94-97, and Ruckert, 97; 
and Heine, Holderlm, Hebbel, Le- 
nau, Immerman, Schaefer, and Ste- 
fan George, 98; m English literature, 
99; Shelley, 99- IO 5? Byron, 105-7; 
and Victor Hugo, 107-1 1 , and mod- 
ern science, 112, influence of, on cos- 
mology, biology, and psychology, 
H2; French materialism and Spino- 
za, 113, and Johannes Miller, 113; 
and Haeckel, 113, and William 
Wundt, 114, and Fechner, 114, and 
Sigmund Freud, 114; and the mod- 
ern theory of causation. Heiden- 
heim, Dirack, and Bridgeman, 115; 
Spinoza's theory of substance re- 
futed by Mach and Avenanus, 115; 
as mystic influences all branches of 
modern science, while Kant the 
scientist has no influence on science 
at all, 1 1 6, excommunication of, 133; 
not the theory of una substantta but 
the identification of God with nature, 
133, God of, only ens raf touts t a dead 
deity, 135, and Crescas, Gersonides, 
and Abraham ibn Ezra, 136; and 
Maimomdes and Saadia, 137; not a 
Jewish philosopher, 138; and the 
rabbis, 139; and the Old Testament, 
140; poor sport, 141 ; looks at Judaism 
from purely secular point of view, 

142, Spinoza and reformed Judaism, 

143, and higher criticism, 143; and 
subjective religiosity, 143; the father 
of Jewish enlightenment, 144; in- 
fluence of, on Hebrew letters, 145; 
and modern Zionism, 146; and 
Chassidism, 147; with Plato and 


Aristotle, the most popular philoso- 
phers m the Ghetto, 147, responsible 
for modern cultural antisemitism, 
places Jesus above Moses; belittles 
the prophets, decries the rabbis, ad- 
mires Christ and St Paul, 148-49, 
mysticism of, 154, and Plato a con- 
trast, 165-69, and Descartes Spi- 
noza's starting-point is Descartes's 
conclusion Spinoza's God-conscious- 
ness is Descartes's self-consciousness, 
176, winds up with amor "Dei but it is 
a dead Dtus, 178, laments like any 
mystic, 178, starting point of the 
intellect, 180; suspicion of, of empiric 
knowledge, 182, adherent of Hobbes 
but not of Descartes, 183, sought sal- 
vation, 184, acceptance of God the 
rejection of the world, 184; mathe- 
matics, 1 86, mathematical method 
of, a myth, 188, mathematics and 
philosophy, 189, geometry of, tautol- 
ogy? I 9 I i evaluation of man, 193, 
theory of substance unsubstantial, 
195, God of, is not free but is identi- 
cal with nature (God's guidance are 
only laws of nature), 198, fails to 
prove existence even of his dead God, 
199; substance of God closely re- 
sembles En Kat Pan, 200, and Fran- 
cis Bacon, 201 ; does not demonstrate 
the reality of substance by infinite 
number of attributes, 203, substance 
of God of, not only not knowable but 
not absolute, not objective, 004, 
admits that theory of definition of 
God is incompatible with theory of 
infinite attributes, 208; God-concep- 
tion of, precludes creation, 210, theo- 
ry of, of the modi, 212-14, theory of, 
of double causality, 213; Jewish God- 
traditions of, 217, theory of, of man, 
219-25; science of man identical with 
science of nature, 225-29, mathe- 
matizes not only God but man and 
his soul, 228; like Buddha's, ethics of, 
utilitarian, 228; political and juridic 
doctrines of, extremely naturalistic, 
229; recognition of, the source of 
salvation, 230; theory of, of intuitive 

knowledge incompatible with deter- 
ministic world-picture, 234, like an- 
cient Brahmins, religiously tolerant, 
239, amor Dei of, erotic mysticism, 

Spinozism: like Buddhism religiosity 
rather than philosophy, 20, lines not 
sharply drawn, 25, teaches rational- 
ism and mysticism, 26, heralding a 
new culture, 52 , changing world-pic- 
ture, 52, spells anti-biblicism, 53; 
changes world-picture of Germanic 
race, 53, attained height in Germany 
when it overwhelmed Herder and 
Goethe, 54, bulwark of philosophy 
in Germany and of poetry in Eng- 
land, 54, today no longer what it was 
a hundred years ago, 76 

Stahl, Fritz, founder of Prussian Jun- 
kensm, 23 

Stosch, Wilhelm, 367 

Strauss, Fnednch, 324 

Tame, Hippolyte, 4, 91, 92 
Tertullian, 245 
Thomas, K , 205, 209, 210 
Torquemada, 351 
Trotzki, Leon, 3, 23 

Upamshads. book of deep thought, 5, 
10, cosmocentric, ii; full of cosmic 
lamentations, n 

Vaimnger, Hans, 33 
Victor, Hugo de St , 155 
Voltaire, 91, and Spinoza, 36, admires 
but rejects Spinozism, 37 

Wagner, Richard, 33 

Weber, Max, 4 

Weber, 1 , 313 

Willman, 0,312 

Wolff, first German thinker to defend 
Spinoza's personality, 81 

World-history, not identical with Euro- 
pean history, 5 

Wundt, Wilhelm, influenced by Spino- 
za, 75